Code of the District of Columbia

§ 8–1901. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1)(A) “Dangerous dog” means any dog that without provocation:

(i) Causes a serious injury to a person or domestic animal; or

(ii) Engages in behavior described in paragraph (4)(A)(i) of this section subsequent to having been determined to be a potentially dangerous dog pursuant to § 8-1902.

(B) The term “dangerous dog” shall not include dogs used by law enforcement officials when the dog is being used for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

(2) “Impound” means taken into the custody of the Mayor.

(3) “Owner” means any person, firm, corporation, organization, or department possessing, harboring, keeping, having an interest in, or having control or custody of a dog.

(4)(A) “Potentially dangerous dog” means any dog that:

(i) Without provocation, chases or menaces a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner, causing an injury to a person or domestic animal that is less severe than a serious injury;

(ii) In a menacing manner, approaches without provocation any person or domestic animal as if to attack, or has demonstrated a propensity to attack without provocation or otherwise to endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals; or

(iii) Is running at-large and has been impounded by an animal control agency 3 or more times in the District within any 12-month period.

(B) The term “potentially dangerous dog” shall not include dogs used by law enforcement officials when the dog is being used for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

(5) “Proper enclosure” means secure confinement indoors or secure confinement outdoors in a locked structure designed and constructed to:

(A) Deter escape of the dog;

(B) Protect the dog from the elements; and

(C) Prevent contact with the dog from humans and other domestic animals.

(6) “Serious injury” means any physical injury that results in broken bones or lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.


(Oct. 18, 1988, D.C. Law 7-176, § 2, 35 DCR 4787; Dec. 5, 2008, D.C. Law 17-281, § 105(a), 55 DCR 9186.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-1021.1.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-1801.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-281 rewrote the section.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Pit Bull and Rottweiler Dangerous Dog Designation Emergency Amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-257, April 16, 1996, 43 DCR 2156).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 3(a) of the Dangerous Dog Designation Emergency amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-351, August 12, 1996, 43 DCR 4553).

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority under D.C. Law 7-176, the Dangerous Dog Amendment Act of 1988, see Mayor’s Order 90-83, June 4, 1990.

Delegation of authority under D.C. Law 7-176, the “Dangerous Dog Amendment Act of 1988”, see Mayor’s Order 2000-98, June 14, 2000 ( 47 DCR 5277).

pursuant to D.C. Law 7-176, the Dangerous Dog Amendment Act of 1988, see Mayor’s Order 2009-40, March 23, 2009 ( 56 DCR 6777).