San Diego, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: I was at a hiking trail and before entering, they told me no dogs were allowed. When I explained it was a service dog

they let me in. When I started hiking, the park ranger stopped me and gave me a ticket for not having a dog license. I just got the dog from my friend to stay with me for a bit and didn’t know about dog licensing. I have to appear in court and I don’t know what the procedure will be like. The cop told me I have to plead guilty/not guilty but i’ve never been to court. What should I expect or do next?

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1 Lawyer Answer
William John Light
William John Light
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Not knowing about dog licensing is not a defense to violating the law. If the dog wasn't yours, that might be a defense. You would have to look up the licensing ordinance to see what it says and whether it applies to you or just to the owner. If the dog is yours now, get it licensed. You might be able to convince the City Attorney/DA to treat it as a "fix it" ticket.

You might, however, face an upgrade in charges. It sounds like you were just taking care of the dog. If so, the dog wasn't a service dog to you, and you were violating whatever ordinances exist to exclude dogs from the trail.

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