BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions

Declaring a Dog as Dangerous

The State of Texas Health and Safety Code defines a Dangerous Dog as one that either

  • Makes an unprovoked attack on a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own, or;
  • Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than an enclosure in which the dog was being kept and that was reasonably certain to prevent the dog from leaving the enclosure on its own and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.

How to Have a Dog Declared Dangerous:
Chapter 6 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances addresses the process for dangerous dog declarations. The steps are detailed below:

  1. To begin the process, a person must make a complaint to BARC, in the form of a sworn statement, that a dog (or dogs) living within the city limits is dangerous. Please complete this affidavit (.pdf).
  2. Upon receipt of the complaint, BARC will review the sworn statement. If the actions of the dog meet the requirements of the State definition of a Dangerous Dog, BARC will open a formal investigation of the case.
  3. For the investigation, the complainant should provide as much information as possible, including but not limited to: witness testimony, photographs of bodily injuries caused by the animal, medical reports related to the injuries, and any other information the complainant can make available to BARC to assist us in the investigation.
  4. Upon completion of our investigation, if BARC determines that sufficient grounds exist to declare a dog dangerous, BARC will issue a written order to the dog owner for the dog to be impounded at the BARC animal shelter pending a hearing with the City of Houston’s Administrative Hearing Official. BARC will then refer the matter to the Hearing Official for further adjudication.
  5. The Hearing Official will review the evidence, including but not limited to: the sworn complaint, photographs of any injuries to persons, testimony of any witnesses, medical reports, the results of the BARC investigation of the complaint, and the testimony of the dog owner. After reviewing the evidence, the Hearing Official will make a determination as to whether the dog will be declared a dangerous dog pursuant to the requirements of the State law.

IF THE HEARING OFFICIAL DETERMINES THE DOG IS DANGEROUS:

  1. If the Hearing Official determines the dog is dangerous and killed or caused serious bodily injury to a human being, the Hearing Official may order the dog be euthanized in the interest of public safety.
  2. If the Hearing Official determines the dog is dangerous but does not order the dog be euthanized, the dog will be held at the BARC animal shelter and the owner will be given thirty (30) days to comply with the conditions ordered by the Hearing Official. If the owner fails to comply, the dog’s disposition will be determined by the City.

IF THE HEARING OFFICIAL DETERMINES THE DOG IS NOT DANGEROUS:

  1. If the Hearing Official determines the dog is not dangerous, the animal will be returned to the owner.
  2. If after investigation BARC determines not to refer the matter to the court for a dangerous dog declaration, or if upon adjudication the Hearing Official determines the dog is not dangerous, the complainant may make a report of the animal attack to a duly elected local Justice of the Peace Court and pursue a Dangerous Dog Declaration through the Justice of the Peace court.

Sworn Statements may be mailed to:
3200 Carr Street, Houston, 77026
Attn. Animal Control.

Please contact BARC through 311 for questions and assistance.