This is a summary of the San
Diego County Code on animal control and other applicable laws.
Disturbing the Peace
It is a public offense for someone to own or keep an animal that is
disturbing neighborhood peace. (San Diego County Code 36.414). Please
Dog Bites, Dangerous Dogs And Owners’ Rights
Every year we receive more than 2,500 reports of dog bites. Many
bite victims are seriously injured and children suffer most of those
injuries. Help prevent your dog from biting people, and avoid being
bitten. Learn more »
What happens if your dog bites someone?
You must notify the County Department of Animal Services if your
dog bites someone. (San Diego County Code 62.615)
By law, the dog is required to be quarantined for 10 days from
the date of the bite.
- The place and manner of the quarantine is at the discretion
of County Animal Services. If this is your dog’s first reported
minor bite of a person we may not impound your dog.
- This quarantine is required even if your dog has a current
You may be allowed to quarantine the dog at your home if you
have a secure enclosure that will isolate the dog from other people
and animals during the quarantine period.
If you fail to keep the dog isolated, you can be charged with a
misdemeanor and the dog could be impounded for the remainder of
the quarantine period.
The dog cannot be released until approved by County Animal
Services. Our staff will contact you after the quarrantine to
see if your dog is healthy and is not showing signs of rabies.
Your dog can be declared a “Public Nuisance Animal” or a “Dangerous Dog”.
- A Public Nuisance Animal is one that has repeatedly
violated state and local laws, obstructed, damaged or inconvenienced
the community, or injured or killed another animal.
Dangerous Dog is one that has
- attacked or bitten
two people within a 48-month period
- attacked or bitten
an person causing substantial injury or death
What is the process to declare a Dangerous Dog or Public Nuisance Animal?
- Typically a dog bite, attack or other violation is reported to
County Animal Services and an investigation is opened. The dog may
be impounded and the case may be referred to the Dangerous Dog Task
- If there is sufficient cause, the dog’s owner will be
notified in writing that the department intends to declare their
animal a Dangerous Dog or a Public Nuisance Animal.(San Diego County
- The owner may request a hearing to contest
In certain difficult cases, we may seek the destruction of the dog.
In other cases, certain restrictions are imposed on the dog and its
- Obtaining and maintaining liability insurance
- Building or purchasing specified fencing and/or using certain
types of restraint and muzzling
- Getting the dog
microchipped and having photo identification
- Altering the
- Requiring a special registration and possibly other
If the owner doesn’t comply with these restrictions, we can issue a
misdemeanor citation or impound or euthanize the dog. Any damages
caused by the animal will need to be determined in a civil lawsuit.
To download a PDF brochure about this process, click here »
Rabies Vaccination And Dog License Requirements
Humane treatment of an animal includes providing it with shelter,
food, water, exercise, grooming (if necessary) and veterinary care.
(California Penal Code Section 597). For proper health, pets should be
examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.
- A number of state and local laws prohibit animal cruelty;
crimes can be a misdemeanor or felony.
- Animal cruelty can
include every act, omission or neglect that causes pain or
Dog Locked In A Car. California Penal Code 597.7 states than an
animal may not be left unattended in a vehicle if the animal would
suffer because of heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, food or
water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to
cause suffering, disability or death.
The law permits you to remove an animal from a vehicle if you
believe the animal’s safety is in immediate danger:
- First, determine whether the animal is in imminent
- If the vehicle is locked contact a law
enforcement agency, fire department, animal control or dial 911
before forcibly entering the vehicle.
- The animal then
needs to be turned over to agency that responded to the call.
Restraint And Leash Law
Proper restraint of dogs will prevent them from harming other
animals, people or property, and from straying and getting lost or injured.
At home dog owners must control their dogs by voice, an
electronic containment system, or keep them restrained by leash,
fence or other enclosure. (San Diego County Code section 62.669;
California Penal Code Section 597)
Away from home dog owners must restrain their dog using a
hand-held leash no longer than six feet. The person holding the
leash must be capable of controlling the dog.
In a motor vehicle you must safely protect your animal with a
harness or other device that will prevent it from falling, being
thrown or jumping from the vehicle. Learn more
- Animal owners are required to keep their premises sanitary and
free from any fly-breeding reservoir, offensive odors and human or
animal disease. (San Diego County Code Section 62.668)
- Owners may not allow their dog to defecate or urinate on anyone
- Owners are required to remove any feces to
a proper receptacle. (San Diego County Code Section 62.670)
Bringing Dogs Into California
Ten days before you bring a dog into California for the purposes of
selling or transferring ownership, you must get a health certificate
from a licensed veterinarian. (California Health and Safety Code
Section 121720, San Diego County Code 62.620) Learn