How Does Suwannee County (Branford, Dowling Park, Live Oak, McAlpin, O’Brien, Three Rivers, and Wellborn) Florida Define a Dangerous Dog? – Dog Bites and Rights of the Injured Person


A “dangerous dog” is defined under Section 14-32 of the Suwannee County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 14 – Animals. The definition falls under the term “dangerous animal” and includes any dog that has:
1. When unprovoked, bitten, attacked, endangered or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury onto a person when the dog was off its owner’s property;
2. Injured or killed another animal while off its owner’s property (more than once); or
3. Been used primarily or in part for dog fighting, or is trained for dog fighting.

A dog will be classified as dangerous only after a complete investigation has been conducted. A dog will not be classified as dangerous if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was unlawfully on the property of the dog’s owner, or, while lawfully on the owner’s property, was tormenting, abusing or otherwise assaulting the dog.

All dogs classified as dangerous must be confined in a proper, humane enclosure. The enclosure must be approved by the proper authority, prior to its usage. It is unlawful fro the dog to be outside of its enclosure, except for exercise purposes or if the dog needs veterinary care. If the dog is to go outside its enclosure, the canine shall wear a properly fitted muzzle, be restrained by an adult capable of controlling the animal and shall be on a leash of such sufficient strength so as to restrain the animal. The leash cannot be more than 3 feet in length. The owner of a dangerous dog must also post visible warning signs on all entry points of the owner’s premises on which the dog is maintained.

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.

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