Walton County, Florida, incorporates Section 767.12 of the Florida Statutes into its county ordinances under section 5-33 – Dangerous Dogs of the Walton County Code. Florida statue sec. 767.12 addresses the classification, confiscation and destruction of dangerous dogs. The statute also governs the notification, hearing and appeal procedures the county and county animal control officers must follow. If you would like to read the plain language of the relevant statute see the state’s official website under Chapter 767 – Damage by Dogs.
Although the Walton County Code does not provide a definition for “dangerous dogs” it does define a “nuisance animal.” Pursuant to section 5-28 of the Walton County Code, a “nuisance animal” is any animal that
1. May pose a threat to a person or passing vehicle; or
2. If off the owner’s premises, attacks other animals; or
3. Trespasses on school grounds or public places, other than that of a service animal;
4. Damages private or public property;
5. Scatter garbage or trash; or
6. Is a female animal in heat and is not properly restrained; or
7. Habitually or continuously barks, whines, howls, meows, cries, screams, or causes objectionable noises when unprovoked; or
8. Trespasses onto the private property of another; or
9. Is abandoned by its owner who refuses to continue to provide control and care and by releasing it to run at large.
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.