Pursuant to section 5-29 of the Code of Ordinances of Orange County, Florida, Chapter 5- Animals, Article II – Animal Services, a dangerous dog is defined as any dog that has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human being on public or private property. This includes the owner’s property excluding any attack that was made in defense of the owner, or the owner’s home, in response to an action of the person injured or attacked;
2. Severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property;
3. Been used primarily or in part for dog fighting or is a dog trained for dog fighting;
4. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon public grounds (i.e., streets and sidewalks) in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.
NOTE: Dogs used by law enforcement officials for law enforcement work are specifically exempt from the provisions defining a dangerous dog.
The owner of a dog that has been classified as dangerous has the responsibility of obtaining a certificate of registration and dangerous or potentially dangerous dog identification tag for the dog. The dog must wear the ID tag at all times and the certificate of registration must be renewed annually. Certificates of registration will only be issued to those owners that are at least 18 years of age and provide sufficient evidence of:
1. A current rabies vaccination for the dog. The vaccination tag shall be displayed on the dog at all times.
2. The owner’s premises has an approved enclosure to confine the dog and has clearly visible warning signs posted on the premises at all entry points to inform both adults and children of the dogs presence.
3. Permanent identification of the dog such as a tattoo or an electronic implantation.
4. If the owner is leasing or renting the property upon which he or she resides, the owner must obtain written acknowledgement from his or her landlord.
5. Completion of the county’s responsible pet ownership class.
6. The dog must also be permanently sterilized within 14 days of being classified as dangerous.
The owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog must also notify the animal services devision within a 24-hour period if the dog:
1. Has become loose or unconfined;
2. Has bitten a human being or attacked another animal;
3. Is sold, given away or dies; or
4. Is moved to another address.
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.