Harboring a Dangerous Dog: Special Rules for Vicious Dogs

Owning a dog is a big responsibility. From ensuring that the dog is up-to-date on its vaccines to getting the dog registered, there are a lot of items to check off for legal dog ownership in Iowa. When your beloved pet has been declared a vicious dog, there are many special rules and requirements to which you will have to adhere for harboring a dangerous dog.

When is a dog considered to be dangerous?

A dog is deemed to be dangerous/vicious when it is declared to be so by the city’s animal control authority. Certain dogs bite more than others.

According to Code 8.16.030, the forms of probable cause that can be used to label a dog as dangerous are listed below.

  • Written complaint of a citizen
  • Dog bite report(s)
  • Actions of dog witnessed by law enforcement or animal control officer
  • Verified report of previous dangerous behavior
  • Other substantial evidence

If a dog is determined to be dangerous, its owner must obtain a unique license and certificate or registration.

Special License, Certificate & Requirements

The dog owner must obtain the exclusive license and certificate within 30 days of the dog having been declared dangerous. The certificate will be issued by the city assuming that the dog owner meets the criteria for harboring a dangerous dog, including the following.

  • Keeping the dog maintained within the property
  • Posting a sign that warns others that the dog is dangerous
  • Placing a sign that contains a warning symbol about the dog's nature that can be understood by children or the illiterate
  • Obtaining a surety bond by a insurer of not less than $250,000

Liability for Dog Bites in Des Moines

When a dog that has been deemed dangerous or vicious in Des Moines bites or attacks another person or animal, the dog owner will be held liable under the theory of strict liability. As such, it is paramount that the dog owner carry a surety bond of not less than $250,000.

As a note, strict liability also applies to dog owners of non-dangerous dogs when their animals attack as well, assuming that the person attacked was not doing anything illegal at the time of the bite.

Learn More About Dog Bite Laws in Des Moines

A dog bite can cause permanent disfigurement, scarring, and fear. To learn more about dog bite laws and what you can do if bitten in Des Moines, call an attorney today. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, we can guide you through everything that you need to know. Reach us now at 888-435-9886. 

Corey Walker
With over 20 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.