|Section 501. Killing Dogs, Dogs As Nuisances
(a) Legal to Kill Certain Dogs - Any person may kill any dog which he sees in the act of pursuing or
wounding or killing any domestic animal, wounding or killing other dogs, cats or household pets, or pursuing,
wounding or attacking human beings, whether or not such a dog bears the license tag required by the
provisions of this act. There shall be no liability on such persons in damages or otherwise for such killing.
(b) Private Nuisance - Any dog that enters any field or enclosure where domestic animals are confined,
provided that the enclosure is adequate for the purpose intended, shall constitute a private nuisance and the
owner or tenant of such field, or their agent or servant, may detain such dog and turn it over to the local police
authority or State dog warden or employee of the department. While so detained, the dog shall be treated in a
(c) Licensed Dogs Not Included - Licensed dogs, when accompanied by their owner or handler, shall not
be included under the provisions of this section, unless caught in the act of pursuing, wounding or killing any
domestic animal, wounding or killing any dogs, cats or household pets, or pursuing, wounding or attacking
Section 502 of the act is amended to read:
Section 502. Dog Bites; Detention and Isolation of Dogs
(a) Confinement - Any dog which bites or attacks a human being shall be confined in quarters approved by
a designated employee of the Department of Health, a State dog warden or employee of the Department of
Agriculture, an animal control officer or a police officer. Such dog may be detained and isolated in an
approved kennel or at the dog owner’s property. Where such dog is detained is at the discretion of the
investigating officer. All dogs so detained must be isolated for a minimum of ten days. Any costs incurred in
the detaining and isolation of such dog shall be paid by the offending dog’s owner. When the dog’s owner is
not known, the Commonwealth is responsible for all reasonable costs for holding and detaining such dog.
(b) Bite Victims - The investigating officer shall be responsible for notifying the bite victim of the medical
results of the offending dog’s confinement. Any cost to the victim for medical treatment resulting from an
attacking or biting dog must be paid fully by the owner of such dog. The Commonwealth shall not be liable for
medical treatment costs to the victim.
(c) Exemption - When a dog that bites or attacks a human being is a service dog or a police work dog in
the performance of duties, said dog need not be confined if it is under the active supervision of a licensed
doctor of veterinary medicine.
Sections 501-A, 502-A and 505-A of the act, added May 31, 1990 (P.L. 213, No. 46), are amended to read:
Section 502-A. Registration
(a) Summary Offence Of Haroring A Dangerous Dog - Any person who has been attacked by one or more
dogs, or anyone on behalf of such person, a person whose domestic animal has been killed or injured without
provocation, the State dog warden or the local police officer may file a complaint before a district justice,
charging the owner or keeper of such a dog with harboring a dangerous dog. The owner or keeper of a dog
shall be guilty of the summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog if the district justice finds beyond a
reasonable doubt that the following elements of the offense have been proven:
(1) The dog has done one or more of the following:
(i) Inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation
on public or private property.
(ii) Killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal without
provocation while off the owner’s property.
(iii) Attacked a human being without provocation.
(iv) Been used in the commission of a crime.
(2) The dog has either or both of the following:
(i) A history of attacking human beings and/or domestic animals
(ii) A propensity to attack human beings and/or domestic animals
without provocation. A propensity to attack may be proven by
a single incident of the conduct described in
paragraphs (1)(i), (ii), (iii) or (iv).
(3) The defendant is the owner or keeper of the dog.
(a.1) Effect of Conviction - A finding by a district justice that a person is guilty, under subsection (a), of
harboring a dangerous dog shall constitute a determination that the dog is a dangerous dog for purposes of
(b) Report of Conviction - The district justice shall make a report of a conviction under subsection (a) to the
Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, identifying the convicted party, identifying and describing the dog or dogs
and providing such other information as the bureau might reasonably require.
(c) Certificate Required - It is unlawful for an owner to have a dangerous dog without a certificate of
registration issued under this article. This article shall not apply to dogs used by law enforcement officials for
police work, certified guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf nor aid dogs for the handicapped.
(d) Disposition of Dog During Court Proceedings - An owner or keeper of any dog who has been charged
with harboring a dangerous dog shall keep such dog or dogs confined in a proper enclosure or when off the
property of the owner or keeper for purposes of veterinary care, muzzled and on a leash until such time a
report is made under subsection (b). If an appeal of a decision under subsection (b) is filed, such dog or dogs
shall remain so confined until such proceedings are completed. It shall be unlawful for an owner or keeper of a
dog who has been charged with harboring a dangerous dog to dispense the dog in any manner except to be
humanely killed. A violation of this subsection shall constitute a summary offense accompanied by a fine of not
less than $200.
Section 503-A. Requirements
(a) Enclosure and Insurance - The department shall issue, upon payment of all fees under subsection (b), a
certificate of registration to the owner of such animal within 30 days of notification, in writing, by the
department that the dog has been determined to be dangerous and that the owner presents sufficient
(1) A proper enclosure to confine a dangerous dog and the posting
of a premises with a clearly visible warning sign that there is a
dangerous dog on the property. In addition, the owner shall conspicuously
display a sign with a warning symbol that informs children of the presence
of a dangerous dog.
i) A surety bond in the amount of $50,000 issued by an insurer authorized
to do business within this Commonwealth, payable to any person injured
by the dangerous dog; or
(ii) A policy of liability insurance, such as homeowner’s insurance, issued
by an insurer authorized to do business within this Commonwealth
in the amount of at least $50,000, insuring the owner for any personal
injuries inflicted by the dangerous dog. The policy shall contain a
provision requiring the secretary to be named as additional insured
for the sole purpose of being notified by the insurance company of
cancellation, termination or expiration of the liability insurance policy.
(b) Fee - The registration fee for a dangerous dog certificate shall be $200.00 or such amount set by the
department as may be necessary to cover the costs of issuing this registration and enforcing this section. This
registration fee shall be in addition to any other fees collectable under this act and shall be credited to the Dog
Law Restricted Account for the purpose of administering and enforcing this act.
(c) Uniform Identifiable Symbol - The department shall have the authority to establish a uniform identifiable
symbol for visual recognition of dangerous dogs. The “Ugh Dog” symbol developed by Animal-Vues may be
adopted as the standard symbol to identify dangerous dogs.
(d) Other Requirements - The owner shall sign a statement attesting that:
(1) The owner shall maintain and not voluntarily cancel the liability insurance
required by this section during the period for which licensing is sought
unless the owner ceases to own the dangerous dog prior to expiration
of the licenses.
(2) The owner shall notify the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement,
the State dog warden and the local police department within 24 hours
if a dangerous dog is on the loose, is unconfined, has attacked another animal,
has attacked a human being, has died or has been sold or donated.
If the dangerous dog has been sold or donated, the owner shall also provide
the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement and the State dog warden with the name,
address and telephone number of the new owner of the dangerous dog.
Section 504-A Control of Dangerous Dogs
It is unlawful for an owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be outside the proper enclosure unless the
dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under physical restraint of a responsible
person. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or
respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal or from destroying property with its teeth.
Section 505A. Public Safety and Penalities
(a) Failure to Register and Restrain - A dangerous dog shall be immediately confiscated by a State dog
warden or a police officer upon the occurrence of any of the following:
(1) The dog is not validly registered under this act.
(2) The owner does not secure and maintain the liability insurance coverage
required under section 503-A.
(3) The dog is not maintained in the proper enclosure.
(4) The dog is outside of the dwelling of the owner or outside of the proper
enclosure and not under physical restraint of the responsible person.
In addition, an owner violating this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.
(b) Attacks by Dangerous Dog - If a dangerous dog, through the intentional, reckless or negligent conduct
of the dog’s owner, attacks a person or a domestic animal, the dog’s owner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the
second degree. In addition, the dangerous dog shall be immediately confiscated, placed in quarantine for the
proper length of time and thereafter humanely killed in an expeditious manner, with costs of quarantine and
destruction to be borne by the dog’s owner.
(c) Attacks Causing Severe Injury of Death - The owner of any dog that, through the intentional, reckless or
negligent conduct the dog’s owner, aggressively attacks and causes severe injury or death of any human shall
be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. In addition, the dog shall be immediately confiscated by a
State dog warden or a police officer, placed in quarantine for the proper length of time and thereafter
humanely killed in a expeditious manner, with costs of quarantine and destruction to be borne by the dog’s
(d) Dog Owned by Minor - If the owner of the dangerous dog is a minor, the parent or guardian of the minor
shall be liable for injuries and property damages caused by an unprovoked attack by the dangerous dog under
section 4 of the act of July 27,, 1967 (P.L. 186, No. 58), entitled “An act imposing liability upon parents for
personal injury, or theft, destruction, or loss of property caused by the willful, tortious acts of children under
eighteen years of age, setting forth limitations, and providing procedure for recovery.”
(e) Mandatory Reporting
(1) All known incidents of dog attacks shall be reported to the State dog warden,
who shall investigate each incident and notify the department if a dog has
been determined to be dangerous.
(2) A State dog warden or police officer who has knowledge of a dog which
has attacked a person shall file a written report summarizing the circumstances
of the attack with the police in the municipality where the owner of the dog resides
or if the attack occurred outside the owner’s municipality of residence,
with the police having jurisdiction in the municipality where the attack occurred.
The report shall be available for public inspection
Section 601 of the act is amended to read:
Section 506-A. State Registry
The department shall promulgate regulations for the establishment of a State registry for dangerous dogs.
(505-A added May 31, 1990, P.L. 213, No. 46)
Section 507-A Construction of Article
(a) Enforcement - This article shall be enforced by all municipalities except counties.
(b) Abusive or Unlawful Conduct of Victim - This article shall not apply if the threat, injury or damage was
sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises
occupied by the owner of the dog, or was tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog or has, in the past, been
observed or reported to have tormented, abused or assaulted the dog, or was committing or attempting to
commit a crime.
(c) Local Ordinances - Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby
abrogated. A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specified
breed of dog.
(d) Insurance Coverage Discrimination - No liability policy or surety bond issued pursuant to this act or any
other act may prohibit coverage from any specific breed of dog.
(e) Farm Dogs - No farmer who owns a dog kept on the farm shall be guilty of keeping a dangerous dog if:
(1) The dog does not leave the farm property to attack; and
(2) The farm is conspicuously posted alerting visitors to the presence of a watch
or guard dog at all points of ingress and egress.
(f) Procedures in Certain Cities - In cities of the first class, second class and second class A, the following
procedure shall apply:
(1) A person who has been attacked by a dog, or anyone on behalf of such person,
or a person whose domestic animal has been killed or injured without
provocation while the attacking dog was off the owner’s property or a
police officer or an animal control officer employed by or under contract
with the city may make a complaint before a district justice, charging the
owner or keeper of such a dog with harboring a dangerous dog.
The district justice shall make a report of the determination under
section 502-A(a) to the police or an animal control officer employed
by or under contract with the city and to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement shall give notice of this determination
to the respective city treasurer.
(2) All fees and fines shall be paid to and retained by the city treasurer,
who shall issue the certificate of registration.
(3) Enforcement of this article in these cities will be under the jurisdiction of
the local police or an animal control officer employed by or under contract
with the city with notification requirements in Section 503-A(d)(2) to be
made to the licensing authority and the local police or an animal control officer
employed by or under contract with the city.
(4) Copies of all dangerous dog determinations, certificates and reports on
the status of the dangerous dog shall be sent to the
Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
(5) All known incidents of dog attacks shall be reported to the department
for the purpose of keeping bite statistic records and possible
rabies exposure. (507-a added May 31, 1990, P.L. 213, No. 46)
|Delaware County Animal Control
Pennsylvania State Dog Law
|Article V-A Offenses of Dogs