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San Antonio Vicious Dog Ordinance Bites

This article was written by Zandra Anderson, a lawyer in San Antonio, TX who specializes in pet law. The entire article is quoted below

"It appears that a proposed vicious dog law in San Antonio could put nearly every dog that breathes in danger of being labeled vicious.

San Antonio is considering one of the worst dog ordinances I have ever seen. Below is the proposed language–read it very carefully and keep in mind that the definition of enclosure includes your house and fenced yard.

PLEASE–fax, call & email (addresses & numbers below)! Talking points are provided below.

This is a bad law and can set precedent for other cities. The vote is this Thursday, 12/13/07, so you have two (2) days to really make your voice heard and this is when it COUNTS!

You may Cross Post and Forward to anyone who might help with credit given. Thank you.

Zandra Anderson

Sec. 5-147 Keeping of vicious animals.

Any animal owned or kept shall be determined to be vicious if:

(a) Because of its physical nature and vicious propensity it is capable of inflicting serious physical harm or death to human beings and would constitute a danger to human life or property; or

(b) Without reasonable provocation habitually has behaved within the enclosure in which it was being kept in such a manner that the owner thereof knows or should reasonably know that the animal is possessed of tendencies to attack or bite; or

(c) It commits unprovoked acts while in the enclosure in which the animal was being kept and those acts cause a person to reasonable believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury to that person or

(d) An animal which acts in a highly aggressive manner while in the enclosure in which the animal was being kept and appears to a reasonable person able to jump over or escape.

Here are some talking points:

  • “Physical Nature,” “Vicious Propensity,” & “Serious Physical Harm” are NOT Defined. This ordinance addresses animals in general, but is really meant to go after dogs. What is a vicious propensity? All dogs will bark and all dogs will defend their owner and owner’s property. So, any dog in the city from a Chihuahua to a Mastiff can declared vicious at the whim of whatever animal control decides it will be since these terms are NOT defined.
  • ” Constitute a Danger to Human Life or Property” is NOT defined. Any dog can constitute a danger to human life because any dog can bite. A danger to property? Does this mean that if a dog gnaws something like a fence or door that it is a danger to property? If so, all dogs in San Antonio are in trouble because there are NO definitions.
  • This Ordinance is aimed at dogs that are in an enclosure which includes their own yard and house. So, are we now going to punish dogs for barking at the fence? Or will it be a growl? Dogs historically have protected their owners and their owner’s property. Are we now going to declare them vicious for being what they are genetically meant to do? So, after the passing of this ordinance are all dogs supposed to suddenly be ridded of their genetics and sit silently in their yard and house while trespassers and intruders come in? This ordinance is asking the dogs of San Antonio not to be dogs. It makes no sense.
  • This Ordinance punishes the very people who are trying to do the right thing and keep their dogs in an enclosure or in their house. Are you now suggesting that owners chain their dogs or turn them loose in the City?
  • This Ordinance punishes dogs for even thinking about protecting their owners and the owner’s property. Keep in mind that the Ordinance is punishing dogs without anything ever occurring but a bark or a growl. Are you punishing dogs for lusting in their hearts? For merely thinking about being protective? So is Animal Control now going to be the Doggy Thought Patrol?
  • The fees that can be racked up during a vicious dog proceeding are charged against the owner regardless of the validity of the claim. This is a way to take away dogs without any valid claim because the fees are too expensive for the owner to pay.
  • This Ordinance discriminates against those people who are least able to pay to defend these claims or to get their dog out of animal control due to impoundment fees.
  • More dogs will needlessly be killed by this new ordinance. This ordinance is like a Medieval witch hunt and will kill innocent dogs for simply being a dog, and because their owners are unable to pay the fees to get them out of animal control.
  • This law allows anyone to say they believe your dog will attack and then your dog is deemed vicious and seized EVEN THOUGH THE DOG WAS IN YOUR OWN YARD OR HOME! This gives free reign to neighbor bullies to file claims to rid the neighborhood of whatever dogs they don’t want around. This law ushers in a great potential for unfairness.
  • Most people would be very glad if animal control could keep stray dogs from running loose in the city. Now they are going to target dogs in their own yards and houses? This makes no sense. With the little funding that animal control gets it makes a lot more sense to use that money to keep the streets free of packs of stray dogs. Which do you think pose a greater danger–dogs in their own yard or house OR a pack of feral dogs running loose?


I have written a brief which was presented to every City Council member and the Mayor at their meeting last week (presented by Pam–see below). You are welcome to a copy of it–just email me.

Pam Hernandez has done a great job educating people and getting the word out about this law. She got 30 people to attend the Council meeting on 11/29, five on 12/6 and she is putting together a group to attend on 12/13 (this Thursday @ 9:00 a.m.). Please, go if you can. Here is Pam’s contact info to coordinate with her:


Let’s make some noise because ALL dogs are at risk! It does not make any difference where you live because these laws do travel!!!!!


General Fax Number for City Council if individual number does not work (210) 207-7027

Address for all:
City of San Antonio
PO Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283
Mayor Phil Hardberger
Phone: (210) 207-7060; Fax: (210) 207-4168
E-mail: mayorphilhardberger@sanantonio.gov

City Manager Sheryl Sculley
Phone: (210) 207-7080; Fax: (210) 207-4217
E-mail: citymanager@sanantonio.gov

Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros
Phone: (210) 207-7279; Fax: (210) 207-6931
E-mail: maryalice.cisneros@sanantonio.gov

Councilwoman Sheila McNeil
Phone: (210) 207-7278; Fax: (210) 207-4496
E-mail: district2@sanantonio.gov

Councilman Roland Gutierrez
Phone: (210) 207-7064; Fax: (210) 534-1931
E-mail: district3@sanantonio.gov

Councilman Philip Cortez
Phone: (210) 207-7281; Fax: (210) 678-0099
E-mail: district4@sanantonio.gov

Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan
Phone: (210) 207-7043; Fax: (210) 212-4860
E-mail: vsalazar@sanantonio.gov

Councilwoman Delicia Herrera
Phone: (210) 207-7065; Fax: (210) 207-8760
E-mail: district6@sanantonio.gov

Councilman Justin Rodriguez
Phone: (210) 207-7044; Fax: (210) 207-7027
E-mail: district7@sanantonio.gov

Councilwoman Diane Cibrian
Phone: (210) 207-7086; Fax: (210) 949-0439
E-mail: diane.cibrian@sanantonio.gov

Councilman Kevin Wolff
Phone: (210) 207-7325; Fax: (210) 207-7027
E-mail: kwolff@sanantonio.gov

Councilman John Clamp
Phone: (210) 207-7276; Fax: (210) 207-8777
E-mail: john.clamp@sanantonio.gov
Like Zandra says, this doesn’t just affect dogs in San Antonio. This could set an example for other cities around the country, and result in more insane laws like this."

This article was found on PetsitUSA

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Comments (1)
  • I agree these bylaws are stupid.
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