Dangerous or Aggressive Dogs

Close up of a dogs open mouth showing the teeth.

The City's dangerous and aggressive dog laws are taken directly from State law. If a dangerous or aggressive dog is reported, our officers will investigate if certain legal criteria are met.

In order to being an investigation, you must complete the affidavit and detail the incident.

File a Report(PDF, 212KB)

Once received, ACS will begin an investigation of the incident to determine if there has indeed been a violation of the existing law. If the animal's owner is in violation, they can be held liable both civilly and criminally.

Identifying Dangerous Dogs

A dog is identified as dangerous if:

  1. It makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury. The incident will have occurred 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.
  2. It 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.

Aggressive Dog Designations

Behaviors establishing various levels of aggressive dogs are the following:

  1. Level 1 behavior is established if:
    1. A dog while in the enclosure in which the animal was being kept acts to cause a person to reasonably believe that the animal will engage in an unprovoked attack and cause bodily injury to that person.
    2. An unrestrained dog is found to menace, chase, display threatening or unprovoked aggressive behavior or otherwise threaten or endanger the safety of a domestic animal.
  2. Level 2 behavior is established if a dog, while unrestrained, causes physical injury to any domestic animal or livestock.
  3. Level 3 behavior is established if:
    1. A dog, while unrestrained, kills or causes the death of any domestic animal or livestock.
    2. A dog classified as a level 2 aggressive dog that repeats the behavior in subsection (2) after the owner or keeper receives notice of the level 2 classification.

Legal Consequences of Dangerous or Aggressive Dogs

Owned

Dangerous Dog Requirements

The dog must be:

  • licensed
  • wear a special identification collar
  • be kept in a secure enclosure
  • be muzzled when outside
  • be microchipped
  • spayed/neutered 

The owner must:

  • purchase a $100,000 liability insurance policy
  • post a special warning sign
  • attend a pet ownership class
  • allow an annual inspection

Aggressive Dog Requirements

There are 3 different levels of aggressive dog designations based on the circumstances of the attack.

The differing levels have time frame restrictions from 1 - 3 years and each includes:

  • a license
  • micro-chip
  • secure enclosures
  • proper restraints
  • signage
  • muzzle

Unowned

If caught, the dog will be humanely euthanized and tested for rabies in accordance with State law.

Responsible Pet Ownership Course

To view courses on responsible pet ownership, visit the PAWedu-Promotion of Animal Welfare website.