A “dangerous dog” is defined in sSection 10-51 of the Gadsden County, Florida, Code of Ordinances under the term “vicious animal.” A dog will be declared dangerous if the dog has, more than once, bitten or scratched a human or other animal without provocation within a 12-month period, which inflicts seriously bodily injury to that human or animal.
Once classified as vicious, the dog shall either be confined permanently to its owner’s premises or humanely destroyed at the discretion of the director of animal control. A dog will not be classified as vicious if the injury was sustained by a domesticated animal, which at the time of the injury was teasing, tormenting or otherwise abusing the dog or if the injury was sustained by a person who was committing or attempting to commit a tort or crime upon the dog’s owner or who was committing a willful trespass upon the owner’s premises and was tormenting, teasing or otherwise assaulting the dog.
Sec. 10-51. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Vicious animal means any animal which has bitten or scratched a human or other animal without provocation two or more times within a 12-month period of time, or any animal which has attacked a human or other animal with provocation, causing serious bodily injury to that human or animal.
Wild animal means any animal normally found outside captivity in the county and the related ecosystems of this area of the United States. The term “wild animal” includes, but is not limited to, such animals as reptiles, raptors, mammals, aquatic animals, and amphibians.
(Ord. No. 88-004, § 2; Ord. No. 90-010, § II)
Sec. 10-60. Vicious animals.
(a) Any animal classified as vicious according to the definition in this article shall be, at the time of being so classified, either confined permanently to the owner’s premises; or humanely destroyed at the discretion of the director of animal control.
(b) No animal shall be classified as vicious if injury was sustained by a domesticated animal which at the time of such injury was teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the attacking animal.
(c) No animal shall be classified as vicious if the threat or injury was sustained by a person who at the time was committing or attempting to commit a tort or crime upon the owner of the animal or who was committing a willful act of trespass upon the premises of the owner of the animal or who was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the animal.
(Ord. No. 88-004, § 6)
Also put the following language in at the end of the article:
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.