Code Section Group

Food and Agricultural Code - FAC

DIVISION 14. REGULATION AND LICENSING OF DOGS [30501 - 31683]

  ( Division 14 enacted by Stats. 1967, Ch. 15. )

CHAPTER 9. Potentially Dangerous and Vicious Dogs [31601 - 31683]

  ( Chapter 9 added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1. )

ARTICLE 2. Judicial Process [31621 - 31626]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1. )

31621.
  

If an animal control officer or a law enforcement officer has investigated and determined that there exists probable cause to believe that a dog is potentially dangerous or vicious, the chief officer of the public animal shelter or animal control department, or the chief officer’s immediate supervisor, or the head of the local law enforcement agency, or the agency head’s designee, shall petition the superior court of the county in which the dog is owned or kept for a hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the dog should be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. A proceeding under this section is a limited civil case. A city or county may establish an administrative hearing procedure to hear and dispose of petitions filed pursuant to this chapter. Whenever possible, any complaint received from a member of the public which serves as the evidentiary basis for the animal control officer or law enforcement officer to find probable cause shall be sworn to and verified by the complainant and shall be attached to the petition. The chief officer of the public animal shelter or animal control department or head of the local law enforcement agency shall notify the owner or keeper of the dog that a hearing will be held by the superior court or the hearing entity, as the case may be, at which time the owner or keeper of the dog may present evidence as to why the dog should not be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be served with notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition, either personally or by first-class mail with return receipt requested. The hearing shall be held promptly within no less than five working days nor more than 10 working days after service of notice upon the owner or keeper of the dog. The hearing shall be open to the public. The court may admit into evidence all relevant evidence, including incident reports and the affidavits of witnesses, limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or witnesses. A jury shall not be available. The court may find, upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the dog is potentially dangerous or vicious and make other orders authorized by this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 7, Sec. 7. (AB 1553) Effective January 1, 2020.)

31622.
  

(a) After the hearing conducted pursuant to Section 31621, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be notified in writing of the determination and orders issued, either personally or by first-class mail postage prepaid by the court or hearing entity. If a determination is made that the dog is potentially dangerous or vicious, the owner or keeper of the dog shall comply with Article 3 (commencing with Section 31641) in accordance with a time schedule established by the chief officer of the public animal shelter or animal control department or the head of the local law enforcement agency, but in no case more than 30 days after the date of the determination or 35 days if notice of the determination is mailed to the owner or keeper of the dog. If the petitioner or the owner or keeper of the dog contests the determination, they may, within five days of the receipt of the notice of determination, appeal the decision of the court or hearing entity of original jurisdiction. The fee for filing an appeal, payable to the clerk of the court, is as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 70626 of the Government Code. If the original hearing held pursuant to Section 31621 was before a hearing entity other than a court of the jurisdiction, appeal shall be to the superior court. If the original hearing was held in the superior court, appeal shall be to the superior court before a judge other than the judge who originally heard the petition. The petitioner or the owner or keeper of the dog shall serve personally or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, notice of the appeal upon the other party.

(b) The court hearing the appeal shall conduct a hearing de novo, without a jury, and make its own determination as to potential danger and viciousness and make other orders authorized by this chapter, based upon the evidence presented. The hearing shall be conducted in the same manner and within the time periods set forth in Section 31621 and subdivision (a). The court may admit all relevant evidence, including incident reports and the affidavits of witnesses, limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or witnesses. The issue shall be decided upon the preponderance of the evidence. If the court rules the dog to be potentially dangerous or vicious, the court may establish a time schedule to ensure compliance with this chapter, but in no case more than 30 days subsequent to the date of the court’s determination or 35 days if the service of the judgment is by first-class mail.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 7, Sec. 8. (AB 1553) Effective January 1, 2020.)

31623.
  

The court or hearing entity of original jurisdiction or the court hearing the appeal may decide all issues for or against the owner or keeper of the dog even if the owner or keeper fails to appear at the hearing.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1.)

31624.
  

The determination of the court hearing the appeal shall be final and conclusive upon all parties.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1.)

31625.
  

(a) If upon investigation it is determined by the animal control officer or law enforcement officer that probable cause exists to believe the dog in question poses an immediate threat to public safety, then the animal control officer or law enforcement officer may seize and impound the dog pending the hearings to be held pursuant to this article. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable to the city or county where the dog is impounded for the costs and expenses of keeping the dog, if the dog is later adjudicated potentially dangerous or vicious.

(b) When a dog has been impounded pursuant to subdivision (a) and it is not contrary to public safety, the chief animal control officer shall permit the animal to be confined at the owner’s expense in a department approved kennel or veterinary facility.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1.)

31626.
  

(a) No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if any injury or damage is sustained by a person who, at the time the injury or damage was sustained, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon premises occupied by the owner or keeper of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if the dog was protecting or defending a person within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault. No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if an injury or damage was sustained by a domestic animal which at the time the injury or damage was sustained was teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog.

(b) No dog may be declared potentially dangerous or vicious if the injury or damage to a domestic animal was sustained while the dog was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog on the property of, or under the control of, its owner or keeper, and the damage or injury was to a species or type of domestic animal appropriate to the work of the dog.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 761, Sec. 1.)

FACFood and Agricultural Code - FAC2.