California Pit Bull Laws

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It is not uncommon to hear about dogs biting or attacking other individuals, and these incidents can lead to severe injuries, as well as other types of pain and suffering. In many circumstances, the dog involved in an attack it is often a pit bull, though there is significant controversy over whether or not pitbulls are more dangerous than other dogs. Regardless, it is important to understand whether or not California has any specific laws related to pitbulls or any other type of breed of dog. Additionally, we need to examine California laws related to dangerous dogs in general.

Are Pitbulls More Dangerous Than Other Dogs?

In March of 2022, a woman in South Carolina was viciously attacked by three dogs (two pitbulls and one mixed breed). The attack has resulted in the amputation of both of her arms, a portion of her colon, and likely the loss of her esophagus.

The reality is that if that story seems familiar to you, it is likely because there are similar pitbull stories from all over the country. A significant proportion of traumatic and fatal dog attacks revolve around pitbulls. However, the debate rages on about whether or not pitbulls are inherently dangerous or if they are dangerous due to the environment they are raised in.

The reality of that answer probably lies somewhere in between, but that is not the debate here. Specifically, California does not label any dog breed as more dangerous than another. However, municipalities in this state have labeled pitbulls and other breeds as off-limits for residents, likely due to their perceived threat.

California Dangerous Dog Laws

Instead of labeling specific breeds of dogs as dangerous, California has specific statutes in place that make it a crime for owners to fail to control their dangerous dogs (Penal Code 399 PC). Violation of this fence could result in misdemeanor or felony charges and carry a penalty of up to three years in jail.

California has two specific subsections of the dangerous dog law:

  1. Potentially dangerous dog
    • The dog has performed some action, off of the owner’s property, that required a person to defend themselves to prevent bodily harm, or
    • The dog has bitten someone and caused an injury, or
    • The dog injured or killed a domestic animal off of the owner’s property.
  2. Vicious dog
    • The dog has been listed as a potentially dangerous dog and continues aggressive behavior, or
    • The dog has severely injured or killed an individual without being provoked, or
    • The dog has been seized as a result of the owner engaging the dog in fighting.

In many cases, pitbulls do end up being labeled as dangerous dogs, but only after an incident occurs involving law enforcement or animal control.

Contact an Attorney for Help

If you or somebody you care about has been bitten and injured by a Pitbull, you need to work with a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite incidents. This means the dog’s owner will be responsible for paying medical expenses and lost wages to the injury victim, so long as the dog was not provoked and as long as the victim was on public property or lawfully on private property when the incident occurred.