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Florida Dangerous Dog Laws

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Posted on December 8, 2022

Every year, dog attacks and dog bite injuries in Florida send an average of 600 people to the hospital, according to Florida Health. Some of these animals are known dangerous dogs with an established history of viciousness. In Florida, dogs that have been deemed “dangerous” come with special rules and restrictions for owners.

What Is a “Dangerous Dog?”

The definition of a dangerous dog in Florida is found in Section 767.11 of the Florida Statutes. A dangerous dog is any dog that has committed one of the following actions, according to the records of the appropriate authority (such as Hillsborough County Animal Control for a dog located in Tampa):

  • Aggressively bitten, attacked or endangered a human on public or private property.
  • Inflicted severe injury (broken bones, multiple bites, or disfiguring lacerations that require stitches or surgery) on a human on public or private property.
  • Severely injured or killed a domestic animal more than once while off of the owner’s property.
  • Chased or approached a person on public property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack without being provoked.

Allegations that a dog is dangerous will be investigated by Animal Control. To have a dog deemed dangerous based on the last act, for example, a sworn statement must be provided by one or more people attesting to the fact that the dog chased or approached someone. If animal control does deem the subject of the investigation a dangerous dog, the owner will need to take special care to control the dog and prevent future attacks or incidents.

What Responsibilities Does an Owner of a Dangerous Dog Have in Florida?

In the case of a dog that causes severe injury to a human, the animal may be immediately confiscated by animal control for quarantine or be impounded and held. After an investigation and any related appeals, the dog may be humanely put down. Otherwise, the dog will be allowed to remain in the control of the owner, but the owner will need to comply with special laws connected to the control of dangerous dogs.

The responsibilities that the owner of a dangerous dog has differ across municipalities. Under the Hillsborough County Code of Ordinance Section 6-27(b)(1)b, they are as follows:

  • Register the dog with Animal Control within 14 days
  • Renew the certificate of registration annually
  • Sterilize the dog within 30 days
  • Register for and complete dog obedience training from an approved instructor
  • Provide proof of a current health certificate from a veterinarian
  • Have the dog microchipped and registered to the owner at his or her current address
  • Post approved signs obtained from the department at all entrances to his or her property
  • Muzzle, restrain using a substantial chain or leash, and supervise the dog when it is outside of its enclosure
  • Provide access to the property and dog for no less than two annual inspections to verify compliance
  • Receive training provided by the department on how to responsibly own a dangerous dog

If the owner wishes to sell or give away the dangerous dog, he or she must provide animal control with the name, address and telephone number of the new owner. The new owner must then register the dangerous dog within 14 days. If the owner of a dangerous dog fails to meet all of these obligations, he or she could be responsible for a resultant dog attack.

Who Is Liable for a Dangerous Dog Bite Injury in Florida?

In Florida, the victim of a dog bite injury has the right to hold a dog owner strictly liable for any damage or injuries. It is not necessary to prove that the pet owner was negligent in connection to the dog bite injury. It is also not necessary to show that the animal was registered as a dangerous dog at the time of the attack to qualify for compensation. If you need assistance filing your dog bite injury claim in Tampa, contact a Tampa dog bite lawyer at Vanguard Attorneys.