Dangerous & Vicious Dogs

In addition to the requirements for regular dog licenses, the following requirements must be met to keep a dangerous dog within the City of Roanoke.

A "dangerous dog" is any dog:
  • Which causes a wound to any person without provocation on public or private property
  • Which, while off the property of its owner, kills a domestic animal
  • Which is owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting or any dog trained for dog fighting
  • Which, unprovoked, chases or approaches persons upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property other than the owner's property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack
  • Which has a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or otherwise to threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals
  • Which has been found dangerous by any general district court or circuit court of the commonwealth
Note the following exceptions to the above defined:
  • No dog shall be deemed or declared to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog if the threat, wound, injury or damage was caused by any person who, at the time, was assaulting the owner of the dog, committing a willful trespass or tort upon the premises of the owner of the dog, or provoking, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented or abused the dog at other times.
  • 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's property, shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog.
  • No dog owned by a federal, state or local law enforcement agency can be considered dangerous or vicious.
  • No dog shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed.
Requirements for Dangerous Dog Owners
Failure to comply with the following requirements for a dangerous dog is a class 1 misdemeanor:
  • Any dangerous dog shall be securely confined indoors, or if kept outdoors, shall be kept in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure adequate to confine the dog and located upon the premises of the owner of the dog. Any such pen or structure shall have secure sides and a secure top and, if it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides shall be imbedded into the ground no less than 2 feet. Such pen or structure shall provide any such dog with adequate space and protection from the elements and shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • The owner of any dangerous dog shall display 2 signs on his property stating: "Dangerous Dog on Premises." At least 1 sign shall be posted at the front of the property, and the 2nd sign shall be posted at the rear of the property. Each sign shall be capable of being read from a distance of 50 feet.
  • The owner of any dangerous dog shall procure and maintain public liability insurance in the amount of $100,000, insuring the owner for any injury or damage caused by such dog. The owner shall maintain a valid policy and certificate of insurance issued by the insurance carrier or agent as to the coverage required by this subsection at the premises where such dog is kept and shall, upon request, display such policy and certificate to any animal warden or police officer.
  • The owner of any dangerous dog shall have such dog permanently identified by means of a tattoo on an inside thigh, and the owner of any dangerous dog shall provide the animal warden with a color photograph of the dog taken within the last 12 months, suitable for use in identifying the dog.
  • If any dangerous dog is taken off the property of its owner, such dog shall be muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, and such dog shall at all times be kept under the control of a responsible person. Such muzzle shall be constructed in such a manner that it will prevent the dog from biting any person or animal, but such that it will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration.
  • The owner of any dangerous dog shall notify the animal warden within 24 hours if such dog is loose or missing; if such dog has attacked or wounded a human being or another animal; or if such dog has been sold, leased, given away, died or custody has been transferred to another person for more than 48 hours. If such dog has been sold, leased, given away or custody has been so transferred, the owner shall provide the animal warden with the name, address and telephone number of the new owner, lessee or custodian who shall be required to comply with the conditions of this section if the dog is kept within the city. If the owner of a dangerous dog moves with such dog to a different address, such owner shall notify the animal warden of such fact and the new address within 24 hours.
  • The animal warden shall be permitted the right to inspect the enclosure in which any dangerous dog is kept at any time.
Vicious Dogs
A "vicious" dog will not be licensed by the City Treasurer, and may not be owned or kept in the city under any circumstances, if it kills a person; inflicts serious wound to a person (including multiple bites, disfigurement, impairment of health or impairment of any bodily function); continues to exhibit the behavior which resulted in a previous finding by a court that it is a dangerous dog; or has been found vicious by any general district or circuit court of the commonwealth. Owning or keeping a vicious dog is a class 1 misdemeanor, and a court that finds a dog to be vicious must order it to be euthanized.