Virginia has a relatively new registry that will help you determine whether there are any dangerous dogs in your neighborhood. This can be helpful for any bikers or runners or parents of small children who want to know what parts of their county to avoid.
Just like the Sex Offender Registry, the Dangerous Dog Registry allows you to type in your county and zip code and determine whether there are any dogs nearby who have been deemed dangerous or vicious. A “Dangerous dog” is one who “has bitten, attacked or inflicted injury on a person” and a “vicious dog” is one who “has killed a person, inflicted serious injury, or continued to exhibit behavior that resulted in a previous finding that the dog was dangerous.”
The registry was created after dogs killed a toddler and an 82 year old woman (in separate incidents) over the two years before it was passed.
Remember that the legal standard for establishing negligence in a dog bite case in Virginia is that (in the absence of a leash law) you must show that the owner had some prior knowledge of the dog’s propensity to be dangerous and that the owner did not take the proper steps to control his dog. Obviously, if the dog can be found on the Dangerous Dog registry, there should not be much issue establishing the knowledge component.
Much of the cost of maintaining the registry is borne by the dog owners. If the dog has been deemed dangerous, the owner has to pay a $100 initial registreation fee and then $35 renewal fees annually. In addition, if the dog is moved to a different location or the contact information of the owner changes, he is obligated to notify the state within 10 days of the move or change.