The SFPD’s Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit (VDDU) investigates incidents involving dogs that exhibit menacing and/or aggressive behavior. The VDDU encourages the public to immediately notify police whenever a dog bites, attempts to bite, lunges or chases a person or any domestic animal so that the police may secure the scene, render aid and document the incident in a police report. These police reports will be forwarded to the VDDU who will then evaluate each incident to determine the best means to ensure public safety.
Responding police officers have the authority to impound any dog that threatens the health safety and welfare of the community. Impounded dogs are usually held in custody pending a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Hearing.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health has appointed neutral, independent hearing officers to decide whether or not a dog is vicious and dangerous under the law and what remedy, if any, should be imposed to protect the safety of the public.
The purpose of a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Hearing is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public by determining which remedies would prevent the dog in question from presenting future risk to the public. Such remedies may include obedience training, muzzling, property inspection (containment of the dog) or, more often than not, educating the dog owner to make a specific change as to how the dog is controlled.
If you believe that a dog is vicious and dangerous, you can file a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Request for Hearing Form and send to VDDU via email at [email protected]
When does the complainant have to file a request?
All requests for hearings should be filed as soon as possible.
Who will review the request?
The VDDU will review all request for hearings. If, after the hearing has been scheduled and you cannot attend, the hearing officer’s office must be contacted at 1-415-241-7703 at least 72 hours prior to the hearing so that another hearing date may be scheduled.
When and where will the hearing be held?
The hearing date shall be no less than 15 days from the date of the incident, if the dog and dog owner/ guardian are known. The owner/guardian of the dog must be given at least 10 days notice prior to the hearing. (Waivers are granted when the dog in question is in custody and it is in the best interests of all parties that the hearing be held prior to the 15 day limit.) If the dog and dog owner/guardian are not known, the hearing shall be held no later than 90 days from the date the dog or the dog owner/guardian is located or identified.
With very few exceptions, Vicious and Dangerous Dog Hearings are held every Thursday at 12:30 PM at City Hall (1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place) Room 408, San Francisco, CA 94102.
How are these hearings conducted?
The hearings are informal and open to the general public. Cases are heard under the auspices of an administrational hearing. A hearing officer shall be appointed to hear the cases. The hearings are audio recorded.
Who conducts the hearings?
Hearings will be presided over by a designated hearing officer, the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control.
What is the outcome of these hearings?
In the event the hearing officer concludes that there is sufficient evidence that the dog in question is vicious and dangerous and that the health, safety and welfare of the community is at risk, the hearing officer may order that the dog in question be registered as vicious and dangerous and, as such, comply with a number of restrictions as designated in Article 1, Section 42.2 of the San Francisco Health Code. If the hearing officer determines that restrictions imposed by Article 1, Section 42.2 of the San Francisco Health Code are not sufficient to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community the dog may be ordered humanely euthanized.
The hearing officer’s decision is final but may be appealed via the California Superior Court in and for the City and County of San Francisco.