|Laws You Should Know
information and summarized provisions of the San Diego County
Code (SDCC) reflect the basic responsibilities of animal ownership. Please take a few moments to become more familiar with these regulations
that promote animal and public health, safety and welfare. For
additional information please visit your local county animal shelter
or call (619) 236-4250.
You may read the entire summary of basic animal related laws
or click on the links below to view specific information.
Disturbing the Peace
It is a public offense for any person to own or harbor an animal
in such a manner that the peace and quiet of the public is unreasonably
disturbed (SDCC Section 62.672).
Modest changes in animal housing and care can often prevent or
reduce noise disturbances. The following suggestions may be helpful:
- Oftentimes dogs bark out of boredom Owners should ensure
that their dogs are made a "part of the family" and
are provided with adequate companionship and exercise.
- Owners should ensure that their dogs are kept within an enclosure,
rather than tied, and provided adequate covered shelter. It's
often helpful to maintain dogs indoors (house or garage) at
night.Dogs should also be provided adequate food and water
in secure containers.
- Owners who plan on being away from home overnight should make
arrangements for the care and companionship of their pets.
- In some cases, professional training or consultation with
a veterinarian or canine behaviorist may be helpful.
Humane treatment of an animal includes providing it with adequate
shelter, food, water, and exercise, as well as any necessary veterinary
care. To ensure proper animal health, it is recommended that
owners have their pets examined by a veterinarian at least once
a year. A number of state and local laws prohibit animal cruelty,
a crime punishable as a felony or misdemeanor. In general, "cruelty " includes every act, omission, or neglect whereby unnecessary or
unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused or permitted
(Penal Code Section 599b).
Public Protection from Dogs
Each year thousands of area residents are bitten or
attacked by dogs. Many bite victims are substantially injured
and children sustain the majority of injuries. As a result of
these incidents, owners are often subject to administrative action
and may also incur criminal responsibility and/or civil liability.
Dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their animals do
not harm or endanger the health or safety of people or other animals.
Since most biting or attacking incidents occur on or near the
owner's premises, they are normally preventable if reasonable
and common sense precautions are taken.
Owners should not assume that their dogs would always act predictably
in unusual circumstances or with unfamiliar people. In such situations,
there is a greater risk of dogs biting or attacking people and
therefore additional precautions are recommended. These situations
include any dog that has previously demonstrated defensive or
protective tendencies or that is roaming in a pack, protecting
its pups, tied or chained, left in a vehicle, or kept in an area
frequented by children.
Any person owning or having custody or control of a dog must
at all times prevent the dog from attacking, biting, or injuring
any person engaged in a lawful act, and from damaging or interfering
with the lawful use of property (SDCC Section 62.669.1).
Rabies Vaccinations and Dog Licensing
- The owner
of every dog over the age of four months is required by law
to ensure that his or her pet is currently vaccinated against
rabies (SDCC Section 62.610) and licensed (SDCC Section 62.620[a]). (Dog owners who fail to comply with rabies vaccination or licensing
requirements are subject to costly penalties.)
vaccination of dogs (a prerequisite for licensing) has been
highly effective as an animal and public health measure, and
is especially important in areas like ours where the potential
threat of exposure to rabies from wildlife is a significant
concern. The primary or first rabies vaccination is good for
one year, and the second vaccination given one-year later, and
subsequent (or booster) vaccinations are valid for three years.
- A dog's
license tag, which must be securely fastened to the dog's collar
or harness and worn by the dog at all times (SDCC Section 62.620[e]),
provides a uniform system of identification, as well as a visible
means of ensuring that the animal has been vaccinated against
of licensed dogs can access owner information 24 hours per day,
365 days per year by telephone and website. Lost dogs that
are found wearing license tags can be quickly reunited with
their owners, while dogs lost without external identification
may be kept by their finder or brought to an animal shelter
long after the owner may have given up searching for it.
- If you've
recently moved to San Diego County and your dog is currently
licensed elsewhere, you may be able to transfer that license
for a nominal fee for the duration of the rabies vaccine, if
the vaccine has been approved for use in California.
- For your
convenience, the Department of Animal Services and local veterinarians
provide numerous rabies vaccination and dog licensing clinics
throughout the county. For recorded information about upcoming
clinics, please call (619) 236-4646. For more information about
dog licensing, please visit your local county animal shelter
or call (619) 236-4250.
- Click here for information about spaying
or neutering your pet.
Restraint of Dogs
Proper restraint of dogs will prevent them from harming or interfering
with other animals, people, or property, and will also prevent
them from becoming lost or from being injured by vehicles or other
At Home: At home, dog owners must effectively control their
dogs by voice or electronic pet containment system, or must physically
and humanely restrain them by a leash, fence, or other enclosure
(SDCC Section 62.669[b]; Penal Code Section 597t).
Away from Home: If you walk or otherwise bring a dog
to public or other private property (where dogs are permitted),
you must restrain the dog by a hand held leash (not longer than
6 feet in length) (SDCC Sections 62.669[a], 62.601[d], and 62.601[y]).
In a Motor Vehicle: If you transport an animal in a motor
vehicle you must safely enclose or protect the animal by a harness
or other device that will prevent the animal from falling, being
thrown, or jumping from the vehicle (SDCC Section 62.700)
Warm weather tip: On a warm day, vehicle interior temperatures
can reach extreme levels and endanger the health and/or life of
your pet in a matter of minutes, even with partially open windows. During warm weather -- leave your pet at home! Shaded parking areas,
open windows, or an air-conditioned vehicle with the engine off
won't save your pet's life.
It is a public offense for any person to leave an animal in an
unattended vehicle without adequate ventilation or in a manner
as to subject the animal to extreme temperatures that adversely
affect the animal's health or welfare (SDCC Section 62.701).
Reporting of Bites
All persons bitten and the parents or guardians of minor children
bitten, as well as any person owning or having custody or control
of a dog (or other animal of a species subject to rabies) that
bites a person, must promptly report the incident to the Department
of Animal Services (SDCC Section 62.615[b]). This is necessary
so that such animals can be temporarily isolated (as required
by law) in an approved place and manner (oftentimes at the owner's
residence) and observed for at least 10 days for any symptoms
of rabies.  This requirement applies whether or not the biting
animal has been vaccinated against rabies.
Animal owners are required to keep their animal premises sanitary
and free from any fly breeding reservoir, offensive odors, and
human or animal disease (SDCC Section 62.668[d]). It is a public
offense for any person to allow a dog in his or her custody to
defecate or to urinate on any property other than that of the
owner or person having control of the dog. Persons having control
of a dog are required to restrain or control the animal so that
it urinates or defecates only in the street gutters, and to immediately
remove any feces to a proper receptacle (SDCC Section 62.670).