Dangerous & Vicious Dogs
Dog owners need to be aware of the regulations that govern vicious and dangerous dogs.
- What are the legal definitions for dangerous and vicious dogs in Fairfax County?
- Are there times where a dog that has bitten someone won’t be deemed dangerous?
- What happens if I have an incident involving a dog bite or attack?
- Are there certain breeds that are more dangerous?
- What happens when my dog is labeled dangerous?
- How can I find out if there are any dangerous dogs in my neighborhood?
- Are any dogs allowed to run free in Fairfax County?
- What should I do if I see a dog running free?
- What will happen if my dog runs free and gets picked up by Animal Control Officers?
Vicious dogs pertain to a canine or canine crossbreed that has:
- Killed a person
- Inflicted serious injury to a person, including multiple bites, serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of bodily function
- Continued to exhibit behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court that it is a dangerous dog
Dangerous dogs include any canine or canine crossbreed that has:
- Inflicted injury on a person or companion animal
- Killed a companion animal
A dog won’t be deemed dangerous, despite a bite, if:
- The dog owner is engaging in lawful hunting
- The dog owner is participating in an organized, lawful dog handling event
- Call Animal Control at 703-691-2131
- The responding officer may confine the animal
- The responding officer may let the owner confine the animal
- The case may be brought to court, if the dog is deemed a threat to public safety
No animal shall be deemed dangerous solely because of its breed.
- You must obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the Animal Services Division
- Cost of the certificate is $100
- Animal Services Division staff will provide you with a tag that must be worn on the dog’s collar at all times
- The animal must be properly confined or enclosed in your yard
- The residence, or property, must be posted with clearly visible signs warning minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property
- The animal must be permanently identified by means of a tattoo on the inside thigh or by electronic implant
- You must have liability insurance coverage of at least $100,000 that covers animal bites.
- Virginia maintains a directory of dangerous dogs
- Go to www.VDACS.Virginia.Gov
- Scroll to the Dangerous Dog Registry
- Dogs are not allowed to roam free.
- A dog under owners supervision while lawfully hunting
- Engaged in an obedience training class or show
- While in a Fairfax County-sanctioned off-leash or dog exercise area
- Call the non-emergency dispatch number, 703-691-2131
- An Animal Control Officer must witness a violation for a law enforcement action to take place
- Otherwise a citizen may secure a warrant
- An unrestricted dog may be impounded (taken to the Animal Shelter)
- If the owner is immediately located, the owner may be issued a summons