Ken Paxton


Subchapter D, chapter 822 of the Health and Safety Code governs dangerous dogs and incorporates local regulation.  Under the home-rule amendment of the Texas Constitution, however, a municipality cannot adopt an ordinance that conflicts with or is inconsistent with state law. 

Section 822.042 allows thirty days for an owner to comply with the applicable requirements for owning a dangerous dog.  A municipal ordinance imposing a shorter compliance deadline cannot be harmonized with the statute and therefore the municipal ordinance provision would fall.

Subsection 822.0423(c-1) provides for an appeal bond in an amount established by the court.  A municipal ordinance seeking to change the amount of an appeal bond is unenforceable.  The section does not, however, purport to limit other fees or costs that a municipality may impose on an owner.

Though a municipal ordinance providing for the destruction of a dog running at large could be a valid exercise of a municipality’s police power, the government’s impoundment or destruction of personal property invokes the constitutional protection of due process of law.  A municipal ordinance affording an owner no process to redeem the dog or to appeal certain determinations whatsoever would likely fail a procedural due process challenge.  Moreover, section 822.0424 provides a right to appeal certain determinations made with respect to a dangerous dog and its owner.  And subsection 822.042(e) expressly protects a dangerous dog from destruction during the pendency of such an appeal.  A municipal ordinance providing for the destruction of a dangerous dog during the appeal is contrary to the statute and is unenforceable.

A municipality may exercise its powers only within its corporate limits unless its power is extended by law to apply to areas outside those limits.  Nothing in subchapter D authorizes a city to extend its dangerous dog ordinance outside of its city limits.

Opinion File