How Does Duval County (Jacksonville) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? Rights of the Injured Person?

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Section 462.402, Definitions, of the City of Jacksonville (Duval County) Code of Ordinances, defines a dangerous dog as follows:

Dangerous dog means any dog whose actions, according to the records of the appropriate authority after investigation and provided such actions are attested to in a sworn statement by at least one person, meet at least one of the following:

1. On public or private property, including the owner’s property, aggressively attacks, bites or endangers a human or inflicts severe injury on a human;

2. On public or private property, including the owner’s property, attacks and bites another dog or other domesticated animal and causes severe injury or death to the dog or domesticated animal;

3. Is a dog trained for dog fighting or is being used or has been used for the purpose of dog fighting; or

4. Chases or approaches a human upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property in a menacing or threatening manner and in an apparent attitude of attack, when such human is conducting himself/herself peacefully and lawfully and is not provoking the dog.

Under the same section, severe injury is defined as any physical injury that results in one or more broken bones, multiple bites, or one or more lacerations requiring multiple sutures.

If the City of Jacksonville – Animal Control, determines a dog qualifies or constitutes a dangerous dog, then notice will be provided to the dog owner and a hearing will be conducted to determine the appropriate placement and control of the dog AND / OR to determine if the dog should be impounded, classified, or destroyed. It is vital that the dog owner take responsibility and attend the hearings if the dog owner has an interest in saving the animal and also protecting his neighbors and the general public from the potential harm of the “dangerous dog”. See Section 462.404. – Classification of dog as dangerous; notice and hearing requirements; confinement of dog; appeal; registration requirements.

Florida law does not require the classification of a dog as a “dangerous dog” in order to pursue claim or a case for dog bite injuries. In fact, there is no requirement that Animal Control take any action for a person to pursue a case for medical bills, medical treatment, pain and suffering, and related damges for a dog bite injury.

Whether a dog is classified as a dangerous dog or not, it is vital that dog owners maintain control of their dogs for the protection of others. This would include consistent use of leashes and a secure backyard and / or front yard with appropriate fencing. In Florida, a dog bite victim typically need only prove that a dog bite took place. There is no requirement that the dog bite victim prove the dangerous history or propensities of the dog. Even if this was the dog’s first bite every, the dog bite victim can pursue a cause of action against the dog owner for the related damages and injuries.