Model Non-Breed-Specific Ordinances

Studies have shown that dog owner (mis)management is frequently the cause of dog bites. Dogs that are not properly socialized, trained, and contained are often implicated in dog bites. Furthermore, dogs have no control over their environment—but their owners do.

Consequently, dangerous dog laws should more properly be called dangerous dog owner laws, because the laws should focus on owner actions (and inactions) and owner responsibility (and irresponsibility). Dog owners are capable of—and should be held responsible for—safely controlling their dog, no matter what breed or type of dog they happen to own.

Following is a list of model dog control ordinances compiled from various sources, as cited.


Model Dog And Cat Control Ordinance (Appendix 2) and Model legislation for the identification and regulation of “dangerous” dogs (Appendix 4) from the American Veterinary Medical Association. Includes the following elements:

Model Dog and Cat Control Ordinance (Appendix 2)

  • Definitions
  • Licensing and Rabies Vaccination
  • Permits
  • Issuance and revocation of permits and licenses
  • Owner responsibility
  • Impoundment
  • Redemption
  • Adoption
  • Interference
  • Repeals
  • Severability
  • Applicability
  • Safety Clause

Model legislation for the identification and regulation of “dangerous” dogs (Appendix 4)

  • Actions allowed by authorized persons prior to hearing
  • Definitions
  • Hearing procedure
  • Requirements for owners of dogs deemed dangerous

Model Animal Control Law by National Animal Interest Alliance. A basic ordinance suitable for city or county level. Includes the following elements:

  • Definitions
  • Administration
  • Animal Control: Dogs
  • Animal Control: At-Risk Dogs
  • Animal Control: Dangerous Dogs
  • Animal Control: Cats
  • Animal Control: Exotic Animals
  • Animal Control Advisory Board
  • Cruelty, Abuse, and Neglect

Responding to the data: a guide to constructing successful pet-friendly ordinances by National Animal Interest Alliance. This goes hand-in-hand with the sample model animal control law and serves as a guide for those who wish to write their own legislation.


Proposed Dangerous Dog Act by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Suitable for state-level implementation. Interestingly, provides a scale by which a dog’s aggressive behavior can be measured to aid in the determination of dangerousness or viciousness. Includes the following elements:

  • Findings, Definitions, and General Provisions
  • Judicial Process
  • Severity Determination
  • Disposition of Potentially Dangerous or Vicious Dogs
  • Penalties
  • Miscellaneous

Model Dog Owner Regulations by Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States. Includes the following elements:

  • Dogs Are Personal Property
  • Containment
  • Standard of Care
  • Noise Nuisance
  • Dogs at Large
  • Owner Liability
  • Dog Abandonment
  • False Reporting

Calgary’s Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw from the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Calgary is well-known for achieving high pet registration, a high reclaim rate, and a very low euthanization rate. Their Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw is one element of their success; it is very detailed and worth the read.


Drafting Better Laws by the Coalition for Living Safely With Dogs. Excellent information about breed-neutral solutions to dangerous dogs; includes model ordinances and essential dog law components.


Dangerous Dog Law Components by the American Kennel Club. Another list of basic guidelines when writing your own dangerous dog ordinance.

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