Vicious Dogs

Vicious Dog Ordinance

Cleveland Heights Ordinance Number 71-1987 added Section 505.091 to the Animal Control section of our Codified Ordinances and deals specifically with vicious dogs and Pit Bull Terriers.

The owner of a vicious dog has a great responsibility to neighbors and the public. In order to meet that responsibility, regulations have been established that must be followed. It is believed that dog owners who follow these requirements will reduce the likelihood that their dog will be involved in a bite. In addition, neighbors and people who pass by the dogs when the dogs are in the yard or are being walked will be less likely to feel threatened by the dog.

The city defines a vicious dog in three ways:

  1. Any dog with a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of other human beings or other domestic animals;
  2. Any dog which, without provocation, attacks a human being or another domestic animal;
  3. Any pit bull terrier, which shall herein be defined as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pitbull Terrier as to be identifiable as partially of the breed of Staffordshire Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier by a qualified veterinarian duly licensed as such by the State of Ohio.

If You Have a Vicious Dog, the Following is Necessary to Comply With the Law


The vicious dog must be registered annually with the City of Cleveland Heights and a permit obtained. To register, you must show proof of $100,000 liability insurance that insures you against any claim, loss damage, or injury to persons, domestic animals or property resulting from the acts of your dog. Such insurance must be maintained and proof of it may be requested by a law enforcement officer. You must bring a photo of the animal and pay $20 to register.


When your dog is at home, it must be securely confined indoors or, if outside, confined in a securely enclosed and locked pen or dog run area. The pen or dog run must have secure sides and a secure top.


When you take your dog off of your property, you must have it muzzled and it must be securely leashed on a chain no more than three (3) feet long, with at least 300 pounds of tensile strength.

If You Do Not Comply...

  • If it is believed that a vicious dog is being kept in violation of Cleveland Heights law, the City will petition the court to seize and impound the dog.
  • Those who violate this section are guilty of a second degree misdemeanor (subject to 90 days in jail and $750 in fines). A subsequent violation will be a first degree misdemeanor (subject to six (6) months in jail and $1,000 in fines).
  • Any vicious dog which attacks a human being or another domestic animal may be ordered destroyed if the court feels the dog represents a continuing threat.
  • Section 505.091 (Vicious Dogs) of the Codified Ordinances of the City of Cleveland Heights will be strictly enforced. Strict criminal liability is contemplated.