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Last Updated:
2/21/2024 8:55 PM


District of Columbia Dangerous Dog Laws

Definition of a Dangerous Dog

1) a dog that has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal without provocation
2) a dog that, in a menacing manner, approaches without provocation any person or domestic animal as if to attack
3) a dog that has demonstrated a propensity to attack without provocation or otherwise to endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals.
4) The term “dangerous dog” does not include dogs used by law enforcement officials for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

Responsibilities of Owners of Dangerous Dogs

1) Must have a valid certificate of registration proving the dog is registered with local authorities as a dangerous dog.
2) Must confine a dangerous dog indoors or confine it outdoors in a locked pen or other structure which is secure enough to keep the dog in and people including children out. 
3) When the dog is not confined in the enclosure or in an indoor secure place, the dog must be muzzled and restrained by a substantial leash or chain not to exceed 4 ft.  The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog, interfere with its vision or respiration, but shall prevent it from biting any human or animal. 
4) must have liability insurance coverage of at least $50,000.00 for personal injuries caused by the dog
5) must post a warning on their property a dangerous dog is on the property.  The warning should not only be in writing but have a symbol that indicates a dangerous dog is on the property.

Liability of a dangerous dog owner

If the dangerous dog kills or seriously injures a human or domestic animal, without provocation,  the owner is subject to a fine of up to $10,000.00.  Serious injury means any physical injury that results in broken bones or lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.

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