Note that simply running at large, if done 3 times within one year, spells out “potentially dangerous animals” according to the Paradise regulation below:
6.13.040 Potentially dangerous animals.
A. Any animal, except a dog assisting a peace officer engaged in law enforcement duties, is a potentially dangerous animal if, on three separate occasions within a twelve (12) month period, the animal has been observed uncontrolled and off its owner’s or custodian’s premises by an animal control officer or any peace officer or has been properly impounded three times within a twelve (12) month period by an animal control officer.
B. An animal control officer may issue a notice designating an animal exhibiting the aforementioned characteristics as potentially dangerous and may recommend that the animal’s owner take certain actions to prevent future injury by the animal, notwithstanding exceptions as provided for in section 31626 of the Food and Agricultural Code.
Such designation shall be subject to a hearing as provided for in section 6.13.080B.
6.13.050 Dangerous animals.
A. Any animal, except a dog assisting a peace officer engaged in law enforcement duties, which demonstrates any of the following behavior, is rebuttably presumed dangerous:
1. Any animal previously determined to be and currently listed as a potentially dangerous animal which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, displays the behavior described in section 6.13.040, or is maintained in violation of section 6.13.080C;
2. Any animal that chases or approaches a person, domestic animal or livestock, anywhere other than on the property of the owner or custodian, in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, including, but not limited to, behavior such as growling or snarling;
3. Any animal which, when unprovoked, engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury when the person and the animal are off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal;
4. Any animal which, when unprovoked, bites, injures, or causes injury to, a person or domestic animal or livestock causing a less severe injury than as defined in section 6.13.020; or
5. Any animal which, when unprovoked, has seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury attacking any domestic animal or livestock off the property of the owner or keeper of the animal.
Counties and cities usually make up their own regulations.
For example, Sacramento:
The County of Sacramento permits any person to institute a “private animal control” case with the animal control department. Section 8.34.030 (Filing of Charges) states that “[a]ny person, including employees of Animal Control, possessing personal knowledge of facts that there exists a vicious or dangerous animal within the unincorporated area of the County or those incorporated areas served by the Chief of Animal Control may file with the Chief of Animal Control a written affidavit, signed under penalty of perjury” containing the charges against the offending dog owner. To see that county’s definition of a dangerous dog, see Sacramento County Code of Ordinances re Definitions
Another Example of Dangerous Dog Regulation: the California Food & Agriculture Code
The California Food & Agriculture Code contains a number of sections pertaining to dogs. See Division 14 (Regulation and Licensing of Dogs), Chs. 1 through 9, sections 3051 to 31683.
31602. “Potentially dangerous dog” means any of the following:
(a) Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36-month period, engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury when the person and the dog are off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog.
(b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, bites a person causing a less severe injury than as defined in Section 31604.
(c) Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36-month period, has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury attacking a domestic animal off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog.
A “vicious dog” is one that meets the criteria set forth in section 31603 from the same code:
31603. “Vicious dog” means any of the following:
(a) Any dog seized under Section 599a of the Penal Code and upon the sustaining of a conviction of the owner or keeper under subdivision (a) of Section 597.5 of the Penal Code.
(b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being.
(c) Any dog previously determined to be and currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, continues the behavior described in Section 31602 or is maintained in violation of section 31641, 31642, or 31643.
A “severe injury” is defined as follows:
31604. “Severe injury” means any physical injury to a human being that results in muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations or requires multiple sutures or corrective or cosmetic surgery.
A potentially dangerous dog has to be registered as such. Then it has to be kept indoors or in a securely fenced yard from which it cannot escape, and into which children cannot trespass. When off the owner’s property, it has to be restrained by a substantial leash and under the control of a responsible adult.
A vicious dog can be destroyed by the local animal control department. If it is not destroyed, the Court must impose conditions upon the ownership of the dog to protect the public.