May 6, 2016

California Law on Service Dogs and Pit Bulls

OLR Report 2016-R-0049 answers several questions about California laws pertaining to service dogs in housing and pit bulls in private homes.

The report specifically examines whether the law pertaining to service dogs references different breeds. It turns out it does not. Instead, the law prohibits denying a person with disabilities equal access to housing accommodations, other than renting a room in a single-family home, including refusing to lease or rent to someone because he or she uses a guide dog (for the visually impaired), signal dog (for the hearing impaired), or service dog (for other disabilities).  The law does not define guide dog, signal dog, or service dog based on breed.

California law does not set requirements specifically for pit bull owners. Instead, it establishes restrictions for “potentially dangerous” and “vicious” dogs as defined in the law, based on the individual dog’s conduct (Cal. Food & Agric. Code. § 31601 et seq.). If a dog is found to be potentially dangerous, it must be properly licensed and vaccinated.  When on the owner’s property, the dog must be kept indoors or in a fenced in area to prevent the dog from escaping the area and children from entering it. When the dog is off the owner’s property, a responsible adult must keep it under control on a substantial leash.  The local animal control department can destroy a vicious dog, if after due proceedings, it is determined that the dog’s release would create a significant threat to public health, safety, and welfare.

For more information, read the full report here.