Dangerous Dogs

Dangerous Dogs

El Dorado County ordinance 6.12.050 addresses aggressive and dangerous dogs. Owners of dogs are required to keep their dogs confined to their property or on a leash at all times. Dogs that bite people or other animals can be deemed potentially dangerous or vicious. All animal bites should be reported to Animal Services.

If a loose animal is exhibiting aggressive behavior or has bitten someone, call Animal Services. After hours, call the Sheriff's Dispatch at (530) 621-6600.

Did you know? The owner of a dog that bites someone and causes serious injury could face misdemeanor or even felony charges.

If you witness someone being attacked by a dog: Call 911 immediately.

How to Protect Yourself

Dogs can be unpredictable. Even friendly dogs can be aggressive under certain circumstances. Common warning signs include growling or nipping, protecting food, food bowls or toys, etc.

  • If a dog threatens you, try to remain calm and back away slowly. Don't run or scream; a dog's prey instincts will often cause it to react.
  • Never leave a small child alone with a dog, particularly a large dog. This includes the family dog. Many children are bitten in the home by family pets. (A small child is at a dog's face level, and can easily be bitten in the face. In addition, young children often run instead of walk, and scream - actions that can cause some dogs to get overly excited.)
  • If a dog tries to bite you, put a barrier (a board, a purse, or whatever is available) between you and the dog and back away slowly.
  • If you are walking outside and see a dog running loose, avoid the dog by calmly crossing the street or going in another direction. Call Animal Services to report the loose dog.
  • Do not tease or taunt an animal. Be aware that animals are often protective of their food and other items. Mother dogs are often protective of their puppies.

Dogs Officially Declared "Potentially Dangerous" or "Vicious"

If a dog has bitten a person (or a person has been required to take defensive action twice), attacked another animal, or has been involved in similar situations, Animal Services may request a court hearing to officially have the dog declared as "potentially dangerous" or "vicious." The owners of the dog are notified of a court hearing and have the right to attend and present evidence. The judge determines whether the dog is labeled "potentially dangerous." If the dog receives this designation, it must be confined in an enclosure that prevents it from getting out or children getting in. The dog must also be spayed or neutered, must be microchipped, and must wear a special collar (purchased through Animal Services). Warning signs (in both English and Spanish) must be posted at the property.

Additionally, if the dog has bitten a human, the owner is required to maintain liability insurance or post bond covering property damage and bodily injury with a combined single limit of $100,000. If the dog gets out of the enclosure the owner is subject to a misdemeanor fine of up to $500 and a return to court for the dog to be deemed "vicious." The judge will make the decision whether the dog is declared "vicious." If a dog is labeled "vicious" a request can be made to destroy the animal and the owners may be cited with a fine of up to $1000. In the case where a dog severely attacks someone, Animal Services may automatically request a "vicious" dog hearing whether or not it has been previously declared "potentially dangerous."


If you have any questions, please call Animal Services:

  • (530) 621-5795 on the West Slope of the County
  • (530) 573-7925 in South Lake Tahoe
  • (916) 358-3555 Ext. 5795 from El Dorado Hills