Dangerous Dog and Canine Criminal Laws in Virginia

Relevant Virginia criminal canine code sections, not an exclusive list, is below. Relevant local code sections from localities Alexandria, Fairfax, Arlington, Vienna and Falls Church are also highlighted.

§ 3.2-6585. Dogs and cats deemed personal property; rights relating thereto.
All dogs and cats shall be deemed personal property and may be the subject of larceny and malicious or unlawful trespass. Owners, as defined in § 3.2-6500, may maintain any action for the killing of any such animals, or injury thereto, or unlawful detention or use thereof as in the case of other personal property. The owner of any dog or cat that is injured or killed contrary to the provisions of this chapter by any person shall be entitled to recover the value thereof or the damage done thereto in an appropriate action at law from such person.

An animal control officer or other officer finding a stolen dog or cat, or a dog or cat held or detained contrary to law, shall have authority to seize and hold such animal pending action before a general district court or other court. If no such action is instituted within seven days, the animal control officer or other officer shall deliver the dog or cat to its owner.

The presence of a dog or cat on the premises of a person other than its legal owner shall raise no presumption of theft against the owner, and the animal control officer may take such animal and notify its legal owner. The legal owner of the animal shall pay a reasonable charge as the local governing body by ordinance shall establish for the keep of such animal while in the possession of the animal control officer.

§ 51.5-44.1. Fraudulent representation of a service dog or hearing dog; penalty.
Any person who knowingly and willfully fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest, or sign, or uses an identification card commonly used by a person with a disability, in order to represent that the dog is a service dog or hearing dog to fraudulently gain public access for such dog pursuant to provisions in § 51.5-44 is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

§ 3.2-6586. Dog injuring or killing other companion animals.
The owner of any companion animal that is injured or killed by a dog shall be entitled to recover damages consistent with the provisions of § 3.2-6585 from the owner of such dog in an appropriate action at law if: (i) the injury occurred on the premises of the companion animal’s owner; and (ii) the owner of the offending dog did not have the permission of the companion animal’s owner for the dog to be on the premises at the time of the attack.

§ 3.2-6587. Unlawful acts; penalties.

A. The following shall be unlawful acts and are Class 4 misdemeanors:

1. For any person to make a false statement in order to secure a dog or cat license to which he is not entitled.

2. For any dog or cat owner to fail to pay any license tax required by this chapter before February 1 for the year in which it is due. In addition, the court may order confiscation and the proper disposition of the dog or cat.

3. For any dog owner to allow a dog to run at large in violation of an ordinance passed pursuant to § 3.2-6539.

4. For any person to fail to obey an ordinance passed pursuant to §§ 3.2-6522 and 3.2-6525.

5. For any owner to fail to dispose of the body of his companion animals in accordance with § 3.2-6554.

6. For the owner of any dog or cat with a contagious or infectious disease to permit such dog or cat to stray from his premises if such disease is known to the owner.

7. For any person to conceal or harbor any dog or cat on which any required license tax has not been paid.

8. For any person, except the owner or custodian, to remove a legally acquired license tag from a dog or cat without the permission of the owner or custodian.

9. Any other violation of this chapter for which a specific penalty is not provided.

B. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to:

1. Present a false claim or to receive any money on a false claim under the provisions of § 3.2-6553; or

2. Impersonate a humane investigator.

§ 18.2-403.3. Offenses involving animals — Class 4 misdemeanors.
The following unlawful acts and offenses against animals shall constitute and be punished as a Class 4 misdemeanor:

1. Violation of § 3.2-6566 pertaining to interference of agents charged with preventing cruelty to animals.

2. Violation of § 3.2-6573 pertaining to shooting pigeons.

3. Violation of § 3.2-6554 pertaining to disposing of the body of a dead companion animal.

4. Violation of ordinances passed pursuant to §§ 3.2-6522 and 3.2-6525 pertaining to rabid dogs and preventing the spread of rabies and the running at large of vicious dogs.

5. Violation of an ordinance passed pursuant to § 3.2-6539 requiring dogs to be on a leash.

6. Failure by any person to secure and exhibit the permits required by § 29.1-422 pertaining to field trails, night trails and foxhounds.

7. Diseased dogs. — For the owner of any dog with a contagious or infectious disease to permit such dog to stray from his premises if such disease is known to the owner.

8. License application. — For any person to make a false statement in order to secure a dog or cat license to which he is not entitled.

9. License tax. — For any dog or cat owner to fail to pay any license tax required by subsection A or C of § 3.2-6530 within one month after the date when it is due. In addition, the court may order confiscation and the proper disposition of the dog or cat.

10. Concealing a dog or cat. — For any person to conceal or harbor any dog or cat on which any required license tax has not been paid.

11. Removing collar and tag. — For any person, except the owner or custodian, to remove a legally acquired license tag from a dog or cat without the permission of the owner or custodian.

12. Violation of § 3.2-6503 pertaining to care of animals by owner.

§ 3.2-6542. Establishment of Dangerous Dog Registry.
The Commissioner shall establish the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry to be maintained by the Department, Office of Animal Care and Health Policy. The State Veterinarian shall maintain information provided and posted by animal control officers or other such officials statewide on a website. All information collected for the Dangerous Dog Registry shall be available to animal control officers via the website. Registration information shall include the name of the animal, a photograph, sex, age, weight, primary breed, secondary breed, color and markings, whether spayed or neutered, the acts that resulted in the dog being designated as dangerous and associated trial docket information, microchip or tattoo number, address where the animal is maintained, name of the owner, address of the owner, telephone numbers of the owner, and a statement that the owner has complied with the provisions of the dangerous dog order. The address of the owner along with the name and breed of the dangerous dog, the acts that resulted in the dog being deemed dangerous, and information necessary to access court records of the adjudication shall be available to the general public. By January 31 of each year, until such time as the dangerous dog is deceased, the owner shall submit to an animal control officer or other designated local official of the county or city in which he currently resides a renewal registration that shall include all information contained in the original registration and any updates. The owner shall verify the information is accurate by annual resubmissions. The animal control officer or other such official shall post any updates on the website. In the event that the dangerous dog is moved to a different location, or contact information for the owner changes in any way at any time, the owner shall submit a renewal containing the address of the new location or other updated information within 10 days of such move or change to an animal control officer or other such official for the new location. There shall be no charge for any updated information provided between renewals. Each county and city shall submit to the State Veterinarian by January 31 of each year $90 for each dangerous dog it initially registered and $25 for each dangerous dog for which it renewed registration within the previous calendar year. Any funds collected pursuant to this section shall be used by the State Veterinarian to maintain the registry and website. The website list shall be known as the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry.

Actions of the Department relating to the establishment, operation, and maintenance of the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry under this section shall be exempt from the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

Copies of all records, documents, and other papers pertaining to the Dangerous Dog Registry that are duly certified and authenticated in writing on the face of such documents to be true copies by the State Veterinarian or the Dangerous Dog Registry administrator shall be received as evidence with like effect as the original records, documents, or other papers in all courts of the Commonwealth.

§ 3.2-6540. Control of dangerous dogs; penalties.
A. As used in this section, “dangerous dog” means:

1. A canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a companion animal that is a dog or cat or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat. A canine or canine crossbreed is not a dangerous dog if, upon investigation, a law-enforcement officer or animal control officer finds that (i) no serious physical injury, as determined by a licensed veterinarian, has occurred to the dog or cat as a result of the attack or bite; (ii) both animals are owned by the same person; or (iii) such attack occurred on the property of the attacking or biting dog’s owner or custodian; or

2. A canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person. A canine or canine crossbreed is not a dangerous dog if, upon investigation, a law-enforcement officer or animal control officer finds that the injury inflicted by the canine or canine crossbreed upon a person consists solely of a single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury.

B. No dog shall be found to be a dangerous dog as a result of biting, attacking, or inflicting injury on a dog or cat while engaged with an owner or custodian as part of lawful hunting or participating in an organized, lawful dog handling event. No dog shall be found to be a dangerous dog if the court determines, based on the totality of the evidence before it, or for other good cause, that the dog is not dangerous or a threat to the community.

C. Any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within his jurisdiction is a dangerous dog may apply to a magistrate serving the jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. If a law-enforcement officer successfully makes an application for the issuance of a summons, he shall contact the local animal control officer and inform him of the location of the dog and the relevant facts pertaining to his belief that the dog is dangerous. The animal control officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. If the animal control officer determines that the owner or custodian can confine the animal in a manner that protects the public safety, he may permit the owner or custodian to confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal’s owner to comply with the provisions of this section. The court, upon finding the animal to be a dangerous dog, may order the owner, custodian, or harborer thereof to pay restitution for actual damages to any person injured by the animal or whose companion animal was injured or killed by the animal. The court, in its discretion, may also order the owner to pay all reasonable expenses incurred in caring and providing for such dangerous dog from the time the animal is taken into custody until such time as the animal is disposed of or returned to the owner. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 (§ 19.2-260 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2. The Commonwealth shall be required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

D. No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited.

E. No animal shall be found to be a dangerous dog if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a person who was (i) committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; (ii) committing, at the time, a willful trespass upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; or (iii) provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal at other times. No police dog that was engaged in the performance of its duties as such at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a dangerous dog. No animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, shall be found to be a dangerous dog.

F. If the owner of an animal found to be a dangerous dog is a minor, the custodial parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for complying with all requirements of this section.

G. The owner of any animal found to be a dangerous dog shall, within 30 days of such finding, obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the local animal control officer or treasurer for a fee of $150, in addition to other fees that may be authorized by law. The local animal control officer or treasurer shall also provide the owner with a uniformly designed tag that identifies the animal as a dangerous dog. The owner shall affix the tag to the animal’s collar and ensure that the animal wears the collar and tag at all times. By January 31 of each year, until such time as the dangerous dog is deceased, all certificates obtained pursuant to this subsection shall be updated and renewed for a fee of $85 and in the same manner as the initial certificate was obtained. The animal control officer shall post registration information on the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry.

H. All dangerous dog registration certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this section shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older who present satisfactory evidence (i) of the animal’s current rabies vaccination, if applicable; (ii) that the animal has been neutered or spayed; and (iii) that the animal is and will be confined in a proper enclosure or is and will be confined inside the owner’s residence or is and will be muzzled and confined in the owner’s fenced-in yard until the proper enclosure is constructed. In addition, owners who apply for certificates or renewals thereof under this section shall not be issued a certificate or renewal thereof unless they present satisfactory evidence that (a) their residence is and will continue to be posted with clearly visible signs warning both minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property and (b) the animal has been permanently identified by means of electronic implantation. All certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this section shall only be issued to persons who present satisfactory evidence that the owner has liability insurance coverage, to the value of at least $100,000, that covers animal bites. The owner may obtain and maintain a bond in surety, in lieu of liability insurance, to the value of at least $100,000.

I. While on the property of its owner, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked structure of sufficient height and design to prevent its escape or direct contact with or entry by minors, adults, or other animals. While so confined within the structure, the animal shall be provided for according to § 3.2-6503. When off its owner’s property, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be kept on a leash and muzzled in such a manner as not to cause injury to the animal or interfere with the animal’s vision or respiration, but so as to prevent it from biting a person or another animal.

J. The owner shall cause the local animal control officer to be promptly notified of (i) the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all owners; (ii) all of the means necessary to locate the owner and the dog at any time; (iii) any complaints or incidents of attack by the dog upon any person or cat or dog; (iv) any claims made or lawsuits brought as a result of any attack; (v) chip identification information; (vi) proof of insurance or surety bond; and (vii) the death of the dog.

K. After an animal has been found to be a dangerous dog, the animal’s owner shall immediately, upon learning of same, cause the local animal control authority to be notified if the animal (i) is loose or unconfined; (ii) bites a person or attacks another animal; or (iii) is sold, is given away, or dies. Any owner of a dangerous dog who relocates to a new address shall, within 10 days of relocating, provide written notice to the appropriate local animal control authority for the old address from which the animal has moved and the new address to which the animal has been moved.

L. Any owner or custodian of a canine or canine crossbreed or other animal is guilty of a:

1. Class 2 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, attacks and injures or kills a cat or dog that is a companion animal belonging to another person;

2. Class 1 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, bites a human being or attacks a human being causing bodily injury; or

3. Class 6 felony if any owner or custodian whose willful act or omission in the care, control, or containment of a canine, canine crossbreed, or other animal is so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, and is the proximate cause of such dog or other animal attacking and causing serious bodily injury to any person.

The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, or when the animal is a police dog that is engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the attack.

M. The owner of any animal that has been found to be a dangerous dog who willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Whenever an owner or custodian of an animal found to be a dangerous dog is charged with a violation of this section, the animal control officer shall confine the dangerous dog until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the animal to produce the animal.

Upon conviction, the court may (i) order the dangerous dog to be disposed of by a local governing body pursuant to § 3.2-6562 or (ii) grant the owner up to 30 days to comply with the requirements of this section, during which time the dangerous dog shall remain in the custody of the animal control officer until compliance has been verified. If the owner fails to achieve compliance within the time specified by the court, the court shall order the dangerous dog to be disposed of by a local governing body pursuant to § 3.2-6562. The court, in its discretion, may order the owner to pay all reasonable expenses incurred in caring and providing for such dangerous dog from the time the animal is taken into custody until such time that the animal is disposed of or returned to the owner.

N. All fees collected pursuant to this section, less the costs incurred by the animal control authority in producing and distributing the certificates and tags required by this section and fees due to the State Veterinarian for maintenance of the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry, shall be paid into a special dedicated fund in the treasury of the locality for the purpose of paying the expenses of any training course required under § 3.2-6556.

O. The governing body of any locality may enact an ordinance parallel to this statute regulating dangerous dogs. No locality may impose a felony penalty for violation of such ordinances.

§ 3.2-6540.1. Vicious dogs; penalties.
A. As used in this section:

“Serious injury” means an injury having a reasonable potential to cause death or any injury other than a sprain or strain, including serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of bodily function and requiring significant medical attention.

“Vicious dog” means a canine or canine crossbreed that has (i) killed a person, (ii) inflicted serious injury to a person, or (iii) continued to exhibit the behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court or, on or before July 1, 2006, by an animal control officer as authorized by ordinance that it is a dangerous dog, provided that its owner has been given notice of that finding.

B. Any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within his jurisdiction is a vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate serving the jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. If a law-enforcement officer successfully makes an application for the issuance of a summons, he shall contact the local animal control officer and inform him of the location of the dog and the relevant facts pertaining to his belief that the dog is vicious. The animal control officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized in accordance with the provisions of § 3.2-6562. The court, upon finding the animal to be a vicious dog, may order the owner, custodian, or harborer thereof to pay restitution for actual damages to any person injured by the animal or to the estate of any person killed by the animal. The court, in its discretion, may also order the owner to pay all reasonable expenses incurred in caring and providing for such vicious dog from the time the animal is taken into custody until such time as the animal is disposed of. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 (§ 19.2-260 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2. The Commonwealth shall be required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

C. No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited. No animal shall be found to be a vicious dog if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a person who was (i) committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; (ii) committing, at the time, a willful trespass upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; or (iii) provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal at other times. No police dog that was engaged in the performance of its duties as such at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a vicious dog. No animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, shall be found to be a vicious dog.

D. Any owner or custodian of a canine or canine crossbreed or other animal whose willful act or omission in the care, control, or containment of a canine, canine crossbreed, or other animal is so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life and is the proximate cause of such dog or other animal attacking and causing serious injury to any person is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, or when the animal is a police dog that is engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the attack.

E. The governing body of any locality may enact an ordinance parallel to this statute regulating vicious dogs. No locality may impose a felony penalty for violation of such ordinances.

§ 3.2-6538. Governing body of any locality may prohibit dogs from running at large.
The governing body of any locality may prohibit the running at large of all or any category of dogs in all or any designated portion of such locality during such months as they may designate. Governing bodies may also require that dogs be confined, restricted or penned up during such periods. For the purpose of this section, a dog shall be deemed to run at large while roaming, running or self-hunting off the property of its owner or custodian and not under its owner’s or custodian’s immediate control. Any person who permits his dog to run at large, or remain unconfined, unrestricted or not penned up shall be deemed to have violated the provisions of this section.

City of Alexandria Sec. 5-7-36 – Vicious and dangerous dogs generally.
(a)
Any law enforcement officer or animal control officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed kept or found at any time within the city is a dangerous dog or vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate having jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court having jurisdiction at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. If the owner or custodian cannot be located or identified, the animal shall be subject to impound and disposition pursuant to sections 5-7-34 or 5-7-45 of this code.
(b)
Upon the successful application for the issuance of a summons, the officer shall contact the chief animal control officer of the City or of the jurisdiction where the dog is or may be found and inform him of the location of the dog and the relevant facts pertaining to his belief that the dog is dangerous or vicious. The chief animal control officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. If the animal control officer determines that the owner or custodian can confine the animal in a manner that protects the public safety, he may permit the owner or custodian to confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian or harborer of the animal to produce the animal.
(c)
If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal’s owner to comply with the provisions of this section. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized in accordance with the provisions of Virginia Code § 3.1-769.119. The procedure for appeal and trial shall be the same as provided by law for misdemeanors. Trial by jury shall be as provided in Article 4 (§ 19.2-260 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 19.2 of the Code of Virginia. The city shall be required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
(d)
No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor is the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed prohibited.
(e)
No animal shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who was (i) committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian, (ii) committing, at the time, a willful trespass upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian, or (iii) provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal at other times. No police dog that was engaged in the performance of its duties as such at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog. No animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog.
(f)
If the owner of an animal found to be a dangerous dog is a minor, the custodial parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for complying with all requirements of this section.
(g)
The owner of any animal found to be a dangerous dog shall, within 10 days of such finding, obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the chief animal control officer for a fee of $50, in addition to other fees that may be authorized by law. The chief animal control officer shall also provide the owner with a uniformly designed tag that identifies the animal as a dangerous dog. The owner shall affix the tag to the animal’s collar and ensure that the animal wears the collar and tag at all times. All certificates obtained pursuant to this subsection shall be renewed annually for the same fee and in the same manner as the initial certificate was obtained. The chief animal control officer shall provide a copy of the dangerous dog registration certificate and verification of compliance to the state veterinarian.
(h)
All dangerous dog registration certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this section shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older who present satisfactory evidence (i) of the animal’s current rabies vaccination, if applicable, (ii) that the animal has been neutered or spayed, and (iii) that the animal is and will be confined in a proper enclosure or is and will be confined inside the owner’s residence or is and will be muzzled and confined in the owner’s fenced-in yard until the proper enclosure is constructed. In addition, owners who apply for certificates or renewals thereof under this section shall not be issued a certificate or renewal thereof unless they present satisfactory evidence that (i) their residence is and will continue to be posted with clearly visible signs warning both minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property and (ii) the animal has been permanently identified by means of a tattoo on the inside thigh or by electronic implantation. All certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this section shall only be issued to persons who present satisfactory evidence that the owner has liability insurance coverage, to the value of at least $100,000, that covers animal bites. The owner may obtain and maintain a bond in surety, in lieu of liability insurance, to the value of at least $100,000.
(i)
While on the property of its owner, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked structure of sufficient height and design to prevent its escape or direct contact with or entry by minors, adults, or other animals. The structure shall be designed to provide the animal with shelter from the elements of nature. When off its owner’s property, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be kept on a leash and muzzled in such a manner as not to cause injury to the animal or interfere with the animal’s vision or respiration, but so as to prevent it from biting a person or another animal.
(j)
The owner of any dog found to be dangerous shall register the animal with the Commonwealth of Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry, as established under § 3.1-796.93:3 of the Virginia Code, within 45 days of such a finding by the court.
(k)
The owner shall also cause the local animal control officer to be promptly notified of (i) the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all owners; (ii) all of the means necessary to locate the owner and the dog at any time; (iii) any complaints or incidents of attack by the dog upon any person or cat or dog; (iv) any claims made or lawsuits brought as a result of any attack; (v) tattoo or chip identification information or both; (vi) proof of insurance or surety bond; and (vii) the death of the dog.
(l)
After an animal has been found to be a dangerous dog, the animal’s owner shall immediately, upon learning of same, cause the chief animal control officer to be notified if the animal (i) is loose or unconfined; or (ii) bites a person or attacks another animal; or (iii) is sold, given away, or dies. Any owner of a dangerous dog who relocates to a new address shall, within 10 days of relocating, provide written notice to the appropriate local animal control authority for the old address from which the animal has moved and the new address to which the animal has been moved.
(m)
Any owner or custodian of a canine or canine crossbreed or other animal is guilty of a:
(1)
Class 2 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, attacks and injures or kills a cat or dog that is a companion animal belonging to another person;
(2)
Class 1 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, bites a human being or attacks a human being causing bodily injury; or
(3)
May be charged and found guilty under Va. Code § 3.1-796.93:1 of a Class 6 felony if any owner or custodian whose willful act or omission in the care, control, or containment of a canine, canine crossbreed, or other animal is so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, and is the proximate cause of such dog or other animal attacking and causing serious bodily injury to any person.
(4)
The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, or when the animal is a police dog that is engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the attack.
(n)
The owner of any animal that has been found to be a dangerous dog who willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (Ord. No. 4520, 2/23/08, Sec. 1)

Fairfax County Section 41.1-2-7. – Controlling dangerous and vicious dogs.
1.
If a canine or canine crossbreed previously found by the court to be a dangerous dog pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6540 attacks and injures or kills a cat or dog that is a companion animal belonging to another person, and that attack is a separate and distinct incident from the incident that led to the finding, then the owner or custodian of the dangerous dog is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
2.
If a canine or canine crossbreed previously found by the court to be a dangerous dog pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6540 bites a human being or attacks a human being causing bodily injury, and that bite or attack is a separate and distinct incident from the incident that led to the finding, then the owner or custodian of the dangerous dog is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The provisions of subsections 1 and 2 of this section shall not apply to any animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, or when the animal is a police dog that is engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the attack.

3.
If the owner of any canine or canine crossbreed previously found by the court to be a dangerous dog pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6540 willfully fails to comply with the requirements imposed as a result of the finding that the animal is a dangerous dog, then that owner is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (20-06-41.1; 67-08-41.1.)

Falls Church Sec. 4-100. – Violations and penalties.
(a)
Any owner or custodian of a canine or canine crossbreed or other animal is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, attacks and injures or kills a cat or dog that is a companion animal belonging to another person.
(b)
Any owner or custodian of a canine or canine crossbreed or other animal is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor if the canine or canine crossbreed previously declared a dangerous dog pursuant to this section, when such declaration arose out of a separate and distinct incident, bites a human being or attacks a human being causing bodily injury.
(c)
The provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall not apply to any animal that, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, a person, or its owner’s or custodian’s property, or when the animal is a police dog that is engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the attack.
(d)
The owner or custodian of any animal which has been found by a court to be a dangerous dog who fails to comply with the requirements of this division shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

Vienna VA Sec. 3-6. – Owner allowing dog to run prohibited.
(A)
It shall be unlawful for the owner or custodian of any dog to allow his dog, whether licensed or unlicensed, to run at large in the Town at any time.
(B)
Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor and punished by fine not to exceed $250.00.

Vienna VA Sec. 3-10.1. – Removal of excrement.
It shall be unlawful for any owner, keeper or walker of a dog to fail to immediately remove the dog’s excrement from any property other than the dog owner’s property on which such dog had defecated. Any first violation of this section shall result in a warning of possible future penalty. Any conviction of a second or subsequent violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Vienna VA Sec. 3-9. – Dangerous and vicious dogs.
(A)
Any animal control officer or police officer with local jurisdiction who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within his jurisdiction is a dangerous dog or vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate of the jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specific time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. The animal control officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. If the animal control officer determines that the owner or custodian can confine the animal in a manner that protects the public safety, he may permit the owner or custodian to confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal’s owner to comply with the provisions of this section. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized in accordance with the provisions of state law.
(B)
No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor shall the Town Council prohibit the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed. No animal shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who was:
(i)
Committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian;
(ii)
Committing, at the time, a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; or
(iii)
Provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal at other times.
No police dog that was engaged in the performance of its duties as such at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog. No animal which, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, or its owner or owner’s property, shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog.

(C)
The owner of any animal found to be a dangerous dog shall, within ten days of such finding, obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the local animal control officer for a fee of $50.00 or an amount as set by local ordinance but not to exceed the costs incurred by the locality to administer this program, in addition to other fees that may be authorized by law. The local animal control officer shall also provide the owner with a uniformly designed tag that identifies the animal as a dangerous dog. The owner shall affix the tag to the animal’s collar and ensure that the animal wears the collar and tag at all times. All certificates obtained pursuant to this subsection shall be renewed annually for the same fee and in the same manner as the initial certificate was obtained.
(D)
All certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this section shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older who present satisfactory evidence:
(i)
Of the animal’s current rabies vaccination, if applicable;
(ii)
That the animal is and will be confined in a proper enclosure or is and will be confined inside the owner’s residence or is and will be muzzled and confined in the owner’s fenced-in yard until the proper enclosure is constructed;
(iii)
That the animal has been neutered or spayed; and
(iv)
That the owner has liability insurance coverage, to the value of at least $100,000.00, that covers animal bites.
In addition, owners who apply for certificates or renewals thereof under this section shall not be issued a certificate or renewal thereof unless they present satisfactory evidence that their residence is and will continue to be posted with clearly visible signs warning both minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property and the animal has been permanently identified by means of a tattoo on the inside thigh or by electronic implantation.

(E)
While on the property of its owner, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked structure of sufficient height and design to prevent its escape or direct contact with or entry by minors, adults, or other animals. The structure shall be designed to provide the animal with shelter from the elements of nature. When off its owner’s property, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be kept on a leash and muzzled in such a manner as not to cause injury to the animal or interfere with the animal’s vision or respiration, but so as to prevent it from biting a person or another animal.
(F)
If the owner of an animal found to be a dangerous dog is a minor, the custodial parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for complying with all requirements of this section.
(G)
After an animal has been found to be a dangerous dog, the animal’s owner shall immediately, upon learning of same, notify the local animal control authority if the animal:
(i)
Is loose or unconfined;
(ii)
Bites a person or attacks another animal;
(iii)
Is sold, given away, or dies; or
(iv)
Has been moved to a different address.
(H)
The owner of any animal that has been found to be a dangerous dog who willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(I)
All fees collected pursuant to this section, less the costs incurred by the animal control authority in producing and distributing the certificates and tags required by this section, shall be paid into a special dedicated fund in the Town treasury for the purpose of paying the expenses of any training course required under Code of Virginia, § 3.1-796.104:1.
(J)
The animal control officer may determine, after investigation, whether a dog is a dangerous dog. If the animal control officer determines that a dog is a dangerous dog, he may order the animal’s owner to comply with the provisions of this section. If the animal’s owner disagrees with the animal control officer’s determination, he may appeal the determination to the general district court for a trial on the merits.
(Code 1969, § 3-9; Ord. of 12-1987; Ord. of 5-2005)

State Law reference— Registration requirements for owners of dangerous dogs, 2 VAC 5-620-30; registration requirements for local animal control officers, 2 VAC 5-620-40; notification requirements for dangerous dog incidents, 2 VAC 5-620-80.

Arlington County Virginia § 2-10. Vicious or Dangerous Dogs.
A. Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this article, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
“Dangerous dog” means a canine or canine crossbreed which has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal, or killed a companion animal.
“Vicious dog” shall mean a canine or canine crossbreed which:
1. Killed a person; or
2. Inflicted serious injury to a person, including multiple bites, serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of a bodily function; or
3. Continued to exhibit the behavior which resulted in a previous finding by a court that it is a dangerous dog, provided that its owner or custodian has been given notice of that finding.
B. Impoundment; euthanization. Any animal warden that has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within the County is a dangerous or vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner or custodian of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. The animal warden or owner shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered, if the animal poses a substantial risk to humans or other animals. If the animal does not pose such a risk or if the owner or custodian can adequately confine the animal without risk of its escape, the animal warden or police officer shall order the owner or custodian to keep the animal confined inside a dwelling or adequate structure so constructed to prevent its escape. Until such time as evidence may be heard and a verdict rendered, the animal may not be removed from the owner’s or custodian’s immediate property and must be secured on a leash no longer than six (6) feet when not confined indoors or locked within an adequate structure. Failure to comply with such an order shall be a violation of this section. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing evidence, the court finds the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal’s owner or custodian to comply with the provisions of Subsection D. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized by the animal warden, in accordance with state law.
C. Exceptions. No animal shall be found to be a dangerous or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed. No animal shall be found to be a dangerous or vicious dog if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who was:
1. Committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian;
2. Committing, at the time, a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the animal’s owner or custodian; or
3. Provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused or assaulted the animal at other times.
No police dog which was engaged in the performance of its duties at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a dangerous or vicious dog. No animal which, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, or its owner/custodian or owner’s/custodian’s property, shall be found to be a dangerous or vicious dog.
D. Responsibilities of owners or custodians of dangerous dogs.
1. The owner or custodian of any animal found by a court to be a dangerous dog shall, within ten (10) days of such finding, obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the animal warden for a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00), in addition to other fees that may be authorized by law. The animal warden shall also provide the owner with a uniformly designed tag which identifies the animal as a dangerous dog. The owner or custodian shall affix the tag to the animal’s collar and ensure that the animal wears the collar and tag at all times. All certificates obtained pursuant to this paragraph shall be renewed annually for the same fee and in the same manner as the initial certificate was obtained. If the owner fails to obtain such a certificate within the time allotted, the animal warden shall have the power to seize the animal and euthanize the animal in accordance with State law.
2. a. Certificates shall only be issued to persons eighteen (18) years of age or older who present satisfactory evidence that:
(1) The animal has a current rabies vaccination, if applicable;
(2) The animal is and will be confined in a proper enclosure designed to prevent its escape or is and will be confined inside the owner’s or custodian’s residence or is and will be muzzled and confined in the owner’s or custodian’s fenced-in yard with adequate shelter until the proper enclosure can be constructed.
b. In addition, owners or custodians who apply for certificates or renewals thereof under this section shall not be issued a certificate or renewal thereof unless they present satisfactory evidence that:
(1) Their residence is and will continue to be posted with clearly visible signs warning both minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property; and
(2) The animal has been permanently identified by means of a tattoo on the inside thigh or by electronic implant.
3. While on the property of its owner or custodian, an animal to be found by the court to be a dangerous dog shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked structure of sufficient height and design, with adequate shelter, to prevent its escape and to prevent direct contact with or entry by minors, adults or animals. When off its owner’s or custodian’s property, an animal found by a court to be a dangerous dog shall be caged or kept securely on leash no longer than six (6) feet and muzzled in such a manner as not to cause injury to the animal or interfere with the animal’s vision or respiration, but so as to prevent it from biting a person or another animal.
4. If the owner or custodian of a dangerous dog is an unemancipated minor, the custodial parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for complying with all the requirements of this section.
5. After an animal has been found by a court to be a dangerous dog, the animal’s owner or custodian shall, upon learning of same, immediately notify the animal warden if the animal;
a. Is loose or unconfined;
b. Bites or attacks either a person or other animal; c. Is sold, given away or dies; or
d. Has been moved to a different address.
E. Penalty. The owner or custodian of any animal who fails to comply with the requirements of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

MEDVIN LAW Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars. Our Criminal Defense Attorney representation services are rated 5/5 stars based on 250 + reviews. Read our reviews on Google, AVVO, Facebook, Yelp, BirdsEye, LawyerRatingz, Lawyers.com, Martindale.