Polk County distinguishes between a “dangerous dog” and a “vicious dog.” Pursuant to Section 4-38 of the Polk County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, a “dangerous dog” is any dog that has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human being;
2. Severely injured or killed a domestic animal on more than one occasion;
3. Been used primarily, or in part, for dog fighting or trained for dog fighting;
4. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.
A “vicious dog” is defined as any dog that has severly injured or killed a domestic animal while off its owner’s property.
A dog will not be declared dangerous if the person who was attacked was unlawfully on its owner’s property, or if lawfully on the property, was tormenting, teasing, abusing or otherwise assaulting the dog. A dog will also not be declared dangerous if it was protecting a human from an unjustified attack or assault.
Once a dog has been declared dangerous its owner has 14 days to register the animal with the local animal control authority. The owner must also obtain a certificate of rabies vaccination. The dog must be confined in a proper enclosure and warning signs shall be posted on the owner’s premises to notify both children and adults of the dog’s presence. A proper enclosure means, while on the owner’s property, the dog is securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure.
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.