How Does Marion County (Ocala, Salt Springs, McIntosh, and Dunellon) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? – Dog Bites and Rights of the Injured Person

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Marion County defines a dangerous dog as any domestic dog or hybrid breed, including but not limited to wolf hybrid and coyote hybrid, that has been declared dangerous by animal services after an investigation by animal services because the dog has, when unprovoked:

1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangers or otherwise inflicted seriously personal injury onto a human being who was lawfully on public or private property.
2. Killed a domestic animal or any livestock, or has injured the same more than once.
3. Been used primarily for dog fighting or is trained for dog fighting.
4. Chased or approached a person while of the premises of its owner in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack. These actions must be attested to in a sworn affidavit by one or more persons and dutifully investigated. Please see Marion County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, Chapter 4 – Animal Control and Enforcement, section 4-2.

Other pertinent definitions of the Marion County Code of Ordinances include:
– “Attack.” When an animal lunges at, runs after or otherwise chases or approaches a person or another animal, including livestock, and such event occurs in a threatening manner, which requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury, results in hostile contact or causes some type of injury.
– “Bite.” A penetration to the skin with teeth and with blood appearing in the wound.
– “Severe Injury.” Any physical injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites or disfiguring lacerations, sutures or reconstructive surgery, or any physical personal injury that results in life-threatening personal injuries or death.
– “Threatening or menacing behavior.” Any aggressive behavior toward a human, another animal or livestock whether by barking, growing or charging, without provocation, where such action on the part of the aggressor creates a reasonable fear of immediate injury. An animal that is under “direct control” on it’s property cannot be found to be threatening or menacing.
– “Direct Control.” The immediate, continuous physical control of an animal by means of confinement (whether in a fence, house, building, pen or other enclosure) or by means of leash, cord, chain or similar tether of sufficient strength to restrain the animal.
– “Unprovoked attack.” The victim was conducting himself or herself peacefully and lawfully when victim was bitten, chased in a menacing fashion or attacked.
NOTE: When a dog is attacked on the property of its owner by another dog that is off its owner’s property, that attack will be presumed unprovoked absent clear evidence to the contrary.
– “Vicious dog.” Any domestic dog of hybrid thereof that has inflicted severe injury on or killed a person; or has more than twice killed another domestic animal or any livestock while off its owner’s property.

Once an investigation has been conducted and a dog is declared dangerous, the owner must obtain a certificate of registration for the dog from the animal control authority within 14 days after the declaration.

Exceptions: A dog shall not be declared dangerous
1. If an attack occurred while a person was unlawfully on the property of the dog’s owner.
2. If the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person unlawfully on the property of the owner or if lawfully on the property of the owner, was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or its owner or family member.
3. If the dog was protecting or defending a human being or another animal including livestock from an unjustifiable attack or assault.