blog home Dog Bites and Attacks Dogs on a Bus: Is It Legal Even If It is a Pit Bull?

By Renee Nordstrand on February 18, 2013

brown pit bull chained up

The dog bite attorneys in Santa Barbara at the Law Offices of Reneé J. Nordstrand recently ran into an interesting story involving a man who brought his pit bull onto a San Luis Obispo city bus.

According to, several passengers on the bus admitted to being on edge when the public transport patron walked to the back of the bus with dog in tow and sat down. One man who talked to KSBY said, “Everybody was nervous and nobody came [to the back of the bus] and sat next to that dog.” He went on to claim that the man with the pit bull stayed on the bus for 10 stops before he got off.

Although the passengers on that bus probably weren’t aware that pit bulls were responsible for 61 percent of all fatal dog attacks in 2012, the breed’s reputation certainly precedes it, and being nervous around them in a crowded public setting seems justified.

But, was it illegal?

When KSBY posed that question to the transit manager of the City of San Luis Obispo, he said that their hands are somewhat tied by Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The driver of a bus can only ask a patron if his or her dog is a pet or if it is a service animal. If the patron answers that it is a service animal, then the driver has to make a judgment call.

Reportedly, the driver of the bus did ask the patron with the pit bull that question, and the patron told him it was a service dog. Since people with service animals are not required to carry proof, many bus drivers are nervous to even question patrons with dogs for fear of a possible ADA lawsuit.

While nothing happened while the dog was on that bus, attorney Reneé J. Nordstrand has handled enough dog bite cases to know that even seemingly friendly dogs have the potential to be dangerous and destructive. If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury, seek medical help and then contact us online or call us at (805) 962-2022 for Santa Barbara or at (818) 981-3530 for Encino. Find out what your legal options might be through a free consultation with our team.