skip to Main Content
Translate to:

AG Opinion – Does an Animal Control Officer have discretion to request a dangerous dog summons once they learn a dog has inflicted an injury on a person?

The answer is no. When an Animal Control Officer has an objective reason to believe a dog has bitten, attacked, or inflicted an injury on a person, he must apply to a magistrate for issuance of a summons for violation of the dangerous dog statute. Only a court can determine, after consideration of evidence, whether the exceptions and defenses found in the Code of Virginia are applicable. For full details, please read opinion no. 16-009.

What is an Attorney General Opinion?

Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  They are not “rulings” and do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505). A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.

Back To Top