According to the Florida Department of Health, hundreds of people fall victim to dog bites yearly. Some of them even die from their injuries. Children and infants are most at risk from dog bites and are least able to defend themselves.
If a vicious dog injures you or a member of your family, you have rights under the law. If the dog is a dangerous breed, its owner has a responsibility to prevent that dog from posing a danger to the public.
To protect its citizens from dangerous dog breeds, Florida law imposes civil and criminal penalties on irresponsible dog owners. Victims should know that they can hold dog owners responsible for negligence if their dog hurts someone.
Pam Olsen Law wants to ensure that all Florida residents have legal recourse if they experience a dog attack. This article is intended to inform and is not professional legal advice. If you need legal representation in Florida because a dog or other animal attacked you, call (352) 671-9777 for a free consultation.
Laws regarding dangerous dog breeds change from time to time. For example, lawmakers in Florida proposed SB 614, which would have changed the legal definitions of dangerous dog breeds in Florida. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney should track current animal laws, notable court cases, and upcoming legislation.
What Is a Dangerous Dog Breed?
Many people have an intuitive concept of the qualities that make a dog dangerous. Large size, demeanor, and actions such as growling and barking come to mind. But what makes a dog dangerous from a legal perspective?
Some unscrupulous dog owners have deliberately trained the animals for dog fighting or use as attack dogs. Trainers might starve or abuse the dogs to provoke aggression. They then reward the dogs for aggressive, violent, and potentially harmful behavior.
A dog who has undergone training for fighting might react to harmless events with violence. Examples include a child attempting to pet them. The outcome can be tragic.
Any owner who adopts one of these animals, knowing its history, has to anticipate violent reactions. They must also ensure that other community members do not pay the price for their dog’s behavior.
A History of Killing or Seriously Injuring Other Animals
Dogs tend to fight one another, so the occasional tussle between dogs might not be a cause for concern. However, it’s a different story with dogs that have a repeated pattern of viciously attacking other dogs. Such a dog might be a potential danger to neighborhood residents and their pets.
When determining whether a dog constitutes a danger, it is critical to review an attack’s circumstances. Did other animals provoke the attacking dog? Did the attack cause a serious injury or death to other animals?
However, note that injuries to other animals on the owner’s property do not necessarily mark the dog as dangerous.
A History of Injuring People
When a dog injures human beings, the standards for declaring a dog dangerous are less restrictive. Florida law takes steps to protect people from dogs with a history of violence toward humans.
Belonging to a Breed With a Reputation for Danger
Dangerous breeds, including pit bulls, have a statistically higher likelihood of being involved in attacks. Nonetheless, not all breed members constitute a danger. State law tends to focus on the behavior of the animals rather than the breed.
However, some jurisdictions view large dogs, such as huskies, as dangerous. Although these dogs may not be violent, their size and weight mean they can do considerable damage if they attack.
Is it Legal to Own Dangerous Dog Breeds?
Home to alligators, exotic pets, and dangerous dog breeds, Florida hosts a menagerie of aggressive animals. Some Floridian cities have restrictions against dog breeds such as pit bulls and rottweilers. Therefore, plaintiffs in dog bite cases should be mindful of the attack’s location and local ordinances relating to dog breeds.
The Legal Responsibilities of Dog Owners in Florida
If someone in Florida owns a dangerous dog or dog breed, the owner has a legal responsibility to take steps to protect nearby people and animals. These safety measures include:
- Registering the animal with state authorities and procuring a license to own a dangerous dog.
- Implanting a microchip in the dog and informing local authorities if the dog escapes the owner’s property.
- Informing the state in a timely fashion if the owner sells the dog or changes the address at which the owner keeps the dog.
- Spaying or neutering the dog so that it does not increase the local population of dangerous dogs.
- Taking measures to protect other residents if the dog is off the owner’s private property. Such measures may include muzzling the dog, using a leash, and transporting the dog in a sturdy carrier.
How to Assess Dangerous Dog Breeds in Florida
Has a dog bitten you in a public place or on your property? If so, gather the information that will help Florida authorities identify the animal and understand its history.
Photographs of the dog can identify its breed, size, and if it had restraints in place. A video of the attack can likewise establish whether anyone provoked the dog to attack. Such visual proof can also reveal the dog’s demeanor during or following the attack, including the attitude of attack.
If the dog is part of the community, such as a neighbor’s dog, a tracking chip can help you identify the dog. As a result, you can help the authorities determine the dog’s history.
Seeking Help If You Are the Victim of a Dog Attack in Ocala, Florida
The Olsen Law Firm proudly advocates for victims of dog attacks. Pam Olsen has been practicing law since the 1990s. With a master’s degree in mental health counseling, Pam applies her practical insights to complex personal injury cases.