How Does Lee County (Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers, and Sanibel) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? – Dog Bites and Rights of the Injured Person

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Lee County, Florida defines a “dangerous animal” under section 6-30 of its Code of Ordinances. Pursuant to section 6-30, a “dangerous animal” is defined as any animal that has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attacked or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on human being on public or private property;
2. More than once, severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property;
3. Has been used primarily or in part for the purpose of fighting or is an animal trained for fighting; or
4. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person up the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.

Section 6-44 – Dangerous Animals, establishes the certain obligations on the owner of a animal classified as dangerous.
1. An animal declared as dangerous must be confined in a secure enclosure on the premises of it owner or keeper.
2. The dangerous animal shall not be allowed off the premises of its owner or keeper unless such animal remains: a). inside a secure marked carrier identifying the animal as dangerous; or b). under the physical control of its owner or keeper who is competent and over the age of eighteen (18) years, securely muzzled and restrained by a chain with a tensile strength of 300 pounds and does not exceed 3 feet in length attached to an approved harness which identifies the animal; or c). subject to conditions established by the director of domestic animal services.

A dangerous animal that is impounded cannot be released until
1. The owner or keeper of the animal agrees to confine and restrain the animal.
2. Provides proof that the animal has been electronically implanted, sterilized, vaccinated for rabies and has made payment of a one-time dangerous dog registration fee.
3. Posts warning signs with attached number identifying the dangerous animal on the owner or keeper’s premise stating “Dangerous Animal” on the property at al entry points to the 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.

You can read more about the Florida Dog Bite Law at Florida Dog Bite Statute – There is Teeth to this Florida Law – Rights of Injured Children and Adults. The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Dog Bite Injuries, Medical Bills and Treatment, Damages / Compensation, and other topics. You can receive a free child injury book at The ABCs of Child Injury. See also Florida Animal and Dog Bite Injuries at the Wood, Atter & Wolf Website.