How Does Monroe County (Big Pine, Islamorada, Key Colony Beach, Key Largo, Key West, Layton, Marathon, Sugarloaf Key, and Tavernier) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? – Dog Bites and Rights of the Injured Person

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Monroe County, Florida, specifically defines a “dangerous dog” as any dog that has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property;
2. Has 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 dog fighting or is a dog trained for dog fighting; or
4. Has, when not provoked, chased, or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or an public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.
(See section 4-1 of the Monroe County, Florida, Code of Ordinances).

Exceptions. The following actions are not included in the definition of of a “dangerous dog”:
1. A dog that bites or attacks a person or animal, when the injured person or animal provoked, tormented , tortured or treated the animal cruelly or is unlawfully on the property of the owner; or
2. A dog that is responding in a manner that an ordinary and reasonable person would conclude was designed to protect itself or another animal or a person if that person is engaged in lawful activity and is the subject of an assault or batter or animal attack; or
3. A dog that was engaged in law enforcement worked under the direction of a law enforcement officer; or
4. A dog that was engaged in a legal hunt or in a legal sport or exhibition (i.e., obedience trial, conformation show, field trial, hunting/retrieving trial, or herding trial).

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.