San Francisco Dog Bite Attorney Comments on San Francisco’s Pit Bull Ordinance

Today, the San Francisco Examiner, reported that two dogs were euthanized this week following an attack in Golden Gate Park earlier this month. According to SFGate, on July 1, 2010 three people were attacked by one of two dogs–both of which were running loose through Golden Gate Park. One person, a 70 year old woman, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with bites on her lower legs. An unidentified man in his 40s was taken to UCSF Medical Center with bites on his leg. And another woman had her clothes torn but was not hurt. Both dogs captured at the time of incident were believed to have had bitten the victims, but the city’s Animal Care and Control confirmed later that only one of the animals – an unneutered male pit bull – was believed to be responsible for all the bites. Authorities believe both dogs probably have owners because they were in good health and wearing harnesses. The owners could face civil, criminal or administrative charges.

California dog law allows breeds to be regulated, including requiring them to be spayed and neutered. And San Francisco has its own law that targets pit bulls. Under the ordinance, pit bull owners are required to spay or neuter the breed, and get breeding permits from the city San Francisco’s. The law also allows animal control officers to issue a fix-it ticket to noncompliant dog owners, requiring that the pit bull be sterilized within two weeks. Animal Control officers also hand out information on low-cost and free surgeries. Officers follow up with visits to the homes of owners who have not complied. A first violation can bring a citation and $500 fine and may result in the Department impounding the pit bull and disposing of the pit bull. A second violation of this section by the owner, guardian or keeper, shall be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period not to exceed six months or by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by both a fine and imprisonment. In addition, a second violation may result in the Department impounding the pit bull and disposing of the pit bull.

It is important to note that the law is not intended to criminalize bill bull ownership, as it takes into consideration there are a lot of people that can’t afford to spay or neuter their dog, rather it is intended to remove animals that pose a danger. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe the law is good for everyone–spaying and neutering is good for pit bulls because it reduceds the number of unwanted pups, and it is good for the citizens of San Francisco, as it stunts aggressive behavior-which can often lead to bites, maulings, or in the most drastic case, killings. No one would disagree that a bite from a pit bull is potentially far more dangerous than a bite from other dogs due to the simple fact that they have more muscle and strength in a single bite. If you have been bitten by a pit bull or any other dog, or, if you have questions regarding dog bit law, please call us.