Definition of Dangerous Dog
Dangerous Dog: Who they are and what you can do
A declaration of Dangerous Dog is made by a Harris County Justice of the Peace. A Dangerous Dog is defined as a dog that:
- makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own;
- commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
Harris County Animal Regulations on Dangerous Dogs
How to Request a Dangerous Dog Declaration
- Any person may report an incident which indicates a dog is dangerous as defined above.
- Requests for a Dangerous Dog declaration are filed at the local Justice of the Peace court by that individual. The court will notify the owner and HCPH Veterinary Public Health
- Declaring a dog dangerous in Harris County is done by a duly elected Justice of the Peace.
Harris County Justice of the Peace Courts web site
The Process of Declaring a Dog Dangerous
A person goes to their Justice of the Peace court and fills out the Dangerous Dog Affidavit to begin the process. The affidavit will ask for the person's information, description of the dog, dog's owner (name and address), and a description of the incident that led the person to believe the dog is dangerous.
Justice of the Peace Court gives owner notice of the complaint. The owner, after receiving notification, has 5 days to deliver the animal to HCPH Veterinary Public Health where it will be held until the legal process is completed.
Justice of the Peace Court sets a hearing not later than the 10th day after the dog is delivered to HCPH Veterinary Public Health. Owner and complainant are notified.
Hearing is held and Judge determines if dog is dangerous according to the definition.
If the declaration of dangerous is made, the owner has 30 days to comply with the requirements for keeping a Dangerous Dog, which includes liability insurance and a secure enclosure inspected by HCPH Veterinary Public Health.
If the dog is not declared dangerous it is released back to the owner.
Summary of Requirements for Owning a Dangerous Dog
After a Justice of the Peace has declared a dog as dangerous, it must be registered with HCPH Veterinary Public Health. The dog may only be registered after the following conditions have been met.
- Payment of an annual registration fee of $50.00 to HCPH Veterinary Public Health
- Provide proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered
- Obtain liability insurance coverage or show financial responsibility in an amount of at least $100,000.00 to cover damages resulting from an attack by the Dangerous Dog causing bodily injury to a person and providing proof of the liability insurance/financial responsibility to HCPH Veterinary Public Health
- Implant the Dangerous Dog with an identifying computer microchip compatible with the scanning equipment utilized by HCPH Veterinary Public Health.
- Obtain prior approval of HCPH Veterinary Public Health of the enclosure constructed to satisfy the secure enclosure section of the Harris County Animal Regulations.
The complete requirements for owning a Dangerous Dog can be found at Harris County Animal Regulations.