Pursuant to section 4-4 of the Sumter County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, incorporates Florida Statute sec. 767.12 in its dangerous animal statute to define a dangerous dog. A dangerous dog is a dog that:
1. Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or has otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human being, whether on public or private property;
2. Has severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off its owner’s property (more than once);
3. Has, when unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon the street, sidewalks or other public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude attack. These actions must be attested to in a sworn affidavit.
A dog will not be declared dangerous under the following situations:
1. The threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was unlawfully on the property.
2. Or, while lawfully on the property, was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or its owner or a family member.
3. The dog was protecting or defending a human being from an unjustified attack or assault.
Specific to Sumter County, a dog may also be deemed dangerous if it has:
1. A propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, to cause injury to, or otherwise endanger the health and safety of human beings or other domesticated animals;
2. Attacked a human being or other domestic animal without adequate provocation;
3. Exhibits aggressive behavior or crease a reasonable apprehension of immediate injury (also without provocation);
4. Without provocation and because of the dog’s temperament, conditioning or training, has a known propensity to bite or otherwise exhibits aggressive behavior causing injury to human beings or other domestic animals or creates a reasonable apprehension of immediate injury;
Once a dog has been deemed dangerous its owner must register the dog and obtain identification for the dog. The dog must also be confined in a locked, secure enclosure on the premises of its owner. The dog is not permitted to leave the premises unless the dog is and remains (1) locked in an animal carrier, (2) under the physical control of the owner, (3) securely muzzled, and (4) restrained by a chain of sufficient strength and not exceeding 3 feet in length.
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.