California Laws for Owning a Pit Bull

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Because pit bulls are sometimes considered predisposed to aggressive and dangerous behavior, certain laws across the country prohibit ownership or place limitations on owning one. California has a state law against singling out the breed as vicious or dangerous to prevent ownership. However, the state allows individual municipalities to make rules about a pit bull's keeping and care.

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California has laws that target potentially dangerous and vicious dogs.
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California dangerous dog breed list

Several breeds may be classified as pit bull dogs, including the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and any mixed breeds that resemble these stocky and muscular dogs and are considered pit bull types. While the state of California doesn't have any specific laws targeting these breeds, there are laws that target potentially dangerous and vicious dogs.

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No matter what the breed, if a dog has previously attempted to attack, has bitten someone off an owner's property, or has attacked an animal off the owner's property, she is considered potentially dangerous.

Vicious dogs are defined as those who have been listed as potentially dangerous and are still aggressive, have severely injured or killed someone, or have been seized for use in dog fighting. These labels are determined by law enforcement, animal control, and the California court system.

California pit bull laws 2021

All of the 19 municipalities in California regulating pit bulls require that you sterilize your dog as part of California pit bull laws in 2021. It's possible to acquire a breeding permit but only under certain circumstances. If your dog is a service or police dog, is registered with the American Kennel Club or a similar dog breed association, or is a regularly performing show dog, your chances are more likely.

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Without a permit, you'll need to spay or neuter your dog in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Sonoma counties as well as in cities like San Francisco, Barstow, and Santa Rosa.

California breed restrictions

The city of Gonzales requires that you contain or control your pit bull at all times. To keep your pit bull within the law, you must keep him either indoors or in a kennel. When you take your dog out in public, you must keep him on a leash and muzzled the entire time that he's not contained. The city requires you to hold your dog's leash the entire time you are away from your home, and you can't tie up your dog.

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Other cities, such as La Verne, have similar laws for vicious or dangerous dogs but don't single out pit bulls as a breed. Laws vary from city to city, so check local regulations before buying or traveling with a pit bull.

There are state liability laws in place for dangerous dogs of any breed, including pit bulls.
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California dog liability laws

Although laws vary by city and county for pit bull dogs, there are state liability laws in place for dangerous dogs of any breed, including pit bulls. If your dog bites anyone off your property with no provocation, you will be held liable for the medical costs to treat the bite, pain, and suffering caused by the injuries as well as psychological counseling, lost wages and earning ability, and compensation for any disfigurement from the bite.

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Dogs who bite people will be considered dangerous, and they must be quarantined for 10 days to ensure that they don't have rabies. In addition, you'll need to keep your dog on a leash when outside your home and either in your home or a fenced yard or kennel when on your own property.

California dog fighting laws

California has very serious laws against dog fighting that go beyond simple animal cruelty laws. Although these laws don't target pit bulls specifically, pit bull breeds and mixes are most commonly used in dog fighting.

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California has very serious laws against dog fighting.
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If you own a dog of any kind with the intent to use him in dog fighting, allow dog fighting on your property, or otherwise engage in dog fighting even as a spectator, you can face misdemeanor or federal criminal charges.

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