How Does Clay County (Orange Park, Middleburg, and Keystone Heights) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? Rights of the Injured Person?
Section Section 4-17 (Definitions) of the Clay County Code of Ordinances defines a dangerous dog / dangerous animal as follows:
Dangerous animal means any animal that according to the records of the department of animal control:
- Has aggressively bitten, attacked, or endangered or has inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property;
- Has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner's property;
- Has been used primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting or is a dog trained for dog fighting; or
- Has, when unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, provided that such actions are attested to in a sworn statement by one or more persons and dutifully investigated by the department of animal control.
The procedure for classifying a dog as a dangerous dog in Clay County, Florida is spelled out in Section 4-33 (Procedure for classifying dangerous dog) in the Clay County Code of Ordinances.
If the Clay County, Florida - Animal Control, determines a dog qualifies or constitutes a dangerous dog, then notice will be provided to the dog owner and a hearing will be conducted to determine the appropriate placement and control of the dog AND / OR to determine if the dog should be impounded, classified, or destroyed. There is actually a section devoted to the issue of destruction of the animal under Section 4-34 (Determination to destroy dog).
It is vital that the dog owner take responsibility and attend the hearings if the dog owner has an interest in saving the animal and also protecting his neighbors and the general public from the potential harm of the "dangerous dog".
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. See Florida Dog Bite Statute - There is Teeth to this Florida Law - Rights of Injured Children and Adults.
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.