Understanding Florida Dog Laws

Every state in America has some laws and regulations on animals, and Florida is no different. Florida dog laws are in place to ensure the safety of your pet and other dogs and the peaceful coexistence of animals and humans. Like others within the United States, these laws deal with issues like biting, vaccinations, and how to handle your dog in public.

As a dog owner in Ocala, or anywhere else in the state, you have specific responsibilities to uphold. Knowing these responsibilities and the laws that outline them are crucial to help ensure no persons or domestic animals experience harm. And if you run into an irresponsible dog owner with a dog that bites you or your pet, be sure to hire expert legal representation to represent you.

Whether you’re a new dog owner or simply want a better understanding of Florida dog laws and regulations, we’re here to help.

Dog Bites and Other Damages

As the owner of a dog, you must be conscious of how your dog acts around other people. If your dog has any violent tendencies, even as protection mechanisms, taking it off a leash while around others could be unsafe. Additionally, any damages caused by your dog, such as a bite, may result in a personal injury claim.

Florida law states that you, as a dog owner, are liable for any damages to another person caused by your dog. These damages can occur in public or on the owner’s property, so long as the person in question is there legally. For example, you are responsible for damages if your dog bites someone that you invited over to your home.

There are some cases in which you would not be liable for damages. For example, if your dog injures a person who is trespassing on your property, or someone who is provoking, teasing, or tormenting your dog, you are not liable.

Severe Injury or Fatality

If your dog’s attack results in severe injury or fatality, Florida dog laws state that your dog will be confiscated and held for ten business days. During that time, you’ll have a hearing. Should you waive your hearing, or if the judge at your hearing rules so, your dog will be euthanized.

Dangerous Dogs

Florida statute contains a dangerous dog section to keep dog attacks to a minimum. According to the statute, an animal control officer will investigate if your dog is seriously aggressive towards people and other animals and poses a threat. If the officer finds that your dog is likely to bite or otherwise injure persons or domestic animals, it will receive a “dangerous” classification.

Once your dog is classified as dangerous, you’ll need to get a certificate of registration within two weeks. You’ll also need to show a current rabies vaccination certificate and provide an enclosure that can safely and securely confine your dog. Finally, you’ll need to put up a dangerous dog warning sign on your property and install a microchip or other form of permanent ID on your dog.

You must update the certificate of registration annually. If you decide to move or your dog runs away, bites a person or animal, or dies, you’ll be legally required to notify animal control. You’ll have the option to sell or give your dog away, in which case you’ll also need to tell animal control.

Dog Leash Laws

Florida law does not explicitly cover dog leash laws but allows cities or counties to outline proper leash usage. Unlike in Miami-Dade County, where owners must leash their dogs in public, it is legal to let your dog off its leash in Ocala and the rest of Marion County. However, it’s best to be careful, as Code 6.05.050 states that it is a civil infraction if your dog commits any of the following:

  • Runs at large
  • Scatters garbage
  • Trespasses on, damages, or destroys the private property of others
  • Chases vehicles on a roadway
  • Is or is potentially a dangerous dog

Dog-in-Car Law

Proper care of your pet does not always entail how to handle it around other people and animals. At times, being a responsible owner means ensuring your dog will be okay while running a simple errand. As an owner, leaving your dog in a hot car is cruel and irresponsible.

In Florida, leaving your dog in a hot car without proper airflow typically falls under the state’s animal cruelty law. According to Florida’s animal cruelty law, leaving your dog in your vehicle in an inhumane manner is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to a year of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Dog Vaccination Laws

Aside from proper conduct and handling of dogs, Florida law also requires certain pet vaccinations. Ensuring you’re up to date on your dog’s vaccinations and boosters helps keep your dog, other dogs and pets, and people safe and healthy. The state of Florida requires the following vaccinations, and failure to provide your dog with proper vaccinations may result in a fine:

  • Rabies – For all dogs older than four months, followed by a booster every 12 months
  • Canine distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Bordetella
  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Parainfluenza

In some instances, dogs should not receive certain vaccinations due to medical risk and can receive an exemption. Always check with your veterinarian to see if such is the case or for additional vaccinations.

Dog Bite Injury Lawyer in Ocala, Florida

As a dog owner, being as informed as possible about the laws governing your responsibilities is crucial. Florida dog laws are in place to ensure the safety and protection of all people and animals alike, and you should only own a dog when you’re ready to adhere to those laws.

Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible. If a dog injures you or a family member, you need strong legal representation. Attorney Olsen Law has 30 years of experience representing people who were personally injured, including by dogs. Call today at (352) 671-9777.

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About the Author

Pam Olsen

Ms. Olsen has practiced law since 1992. During her law school education and throughout career she knew, if it is not about people, she is not interested. Everything about people interests Ms. Olsen from the simple details of living to the most profound. She began her law career in a skyscraper in downtown Miami representing corporate interests. Within a VERY short time, Pam knew that side of the things in the world was not for her.

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