How Does Columbia County (Lake City, Fort White, Lulu, and Watertown) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? – Dog Bites and Rights of the Injured Person

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Pursuant to Section 18-37 of the Columbia County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, a dangerous dog is any dog that, according to a previous record, has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury onto a human being on either public or private property;
2. Severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off its owner’s property (more than once);
3. Been used primarily or in part for dog fighting or is trained for dog fighting; and
4. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack (these actions must be attested to in a sworn affidavit).

Columbia County also incorporates Florida’s state statute sections 767.10-767.15. For more on those statutes please see Florida’s official statutory website.

A dog in Columbia County can also be declared a nuisance under section 18-73. A dog can be a nuisance if the canine has:
1. defecated on property not belonging to its owner and is not immediately removed;
2. destroyed or removed personal items from property not belonging to its owner;
3. turned over garbage can on property not belonging to its owner;
4. chased or bitten children or adults;
5. carries rabies onto a property not controlled by its owner;
6. chased bicycles or other property not belonging to its owner;
7. destroyed clothing on clotheslines not belonging to its owner;
8. dug holes or destroyed gardens not controlled by its owner;
9. trespassed or eaten food not on its owner’s property;
10. chased or killed other domestic animals including livestock not belonging to its owner;
11. barks excessively; and
12. runs at large not on its owner property.

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.