Staff Report


After a recent increase in dog attacks, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has revised the county’s “vicious dog” ordinance to provide more options for hearing officers to set restrictions on owners or deem a dog vicious.

The ordinance became effective in November.

Dog attacks arise from inattention or irresponsibility on the part of dog owners, who must ensure they are fully in control of their dogs at all times, county officials said.

They also encourage steps to prevent dog attacks, such as socialization of puppies from a young age and taking a dog of any age to training classes as soon as it is acquired.

Dog attacks can injure or even kill a person or dog. A dog involved in the attack is usually impounded, pending a vicious dog hearing. The outcome of the hearing can include restrictions and/or fines for the dog owner or an order that the attacking dog be euthanized.

County officials recommend these other steps to prevent a dog attack or fight, which could lead to people or animals being seriously injured, impoundment of the dog, and a hearing with fees and restrictions.

  • Spay or neuter your dog. An altered animal is less likely to run away to seek a mate, less likely to engage in violent altercations with a human or other animals, and less likely to have hormonally motivated aggression if they do escape from their yard.
  • Don’t let your dog run loose, and take measures to prevent any accidental escapes.
  • Ensure that your yard is securely fenced and that gates are latched at all times.
  • Walk your dog on a leash no longer than 6 feet (as required by law) and maintain control of your dog at all times.
  • If a door to your home is a possible point of exit for your dog, install a storm-type screen door with a self-closer.
  • Ask family members and visitors to help ensure your dog is kept confined.
  • Maintain a current license on your dog, as required by law, and have the dog wear the tag.