Jefferson County defines a “dangerous dog” in its Code of Ordinances, Chapter 8 – Animals, Article II – Dangerous Animals and Rabies Control, Section 8-21. Pursuant to Section 8-21 a “dangerous dog” is defined as a dog that has:
1. When unprovoked, bitten, attacked endangers or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human being (whether on public or private property);
2. Injured or kill a domestic animal while off the owner’s property (more than once);
3. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon public grounds (i.e., streets, sidewalks, etc.) in a menacing fashion provided these actions were attested to in a sworn affidavit; or
4. Been used primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting or is a dog trained for dog fighting.
Section 8-21 also defines “attack” as the act by any animal of approaching a domestic animal or person in such a manner that hostile contact with the other animal or a person occurs.
In Jefferson County, a dog shall be declared dangerous only after an investigation is conducted. After a dog has been declared dangerous, its owner can appeal the classification 10 days from the day of declaration. The owner or keeper of a dangerous or aggressive dog shall, within 14 days of the classification, obtain a permit to harbor the animal, which shall be renewed annually. The dog shall wear a red circular tag, issued to the owner, which shall be worn by the dog at all times. If a dangerous or aggressive animal escapes from its enclosure or is otherwise at large, its owner or keeper must notify animal services immediately. Notification is also required if the owner or keeper intends to change his or her address. All dangerous or aggressive dogs shall be confined in a proper and humane enclosure. The dog shall not be permitted outside the enclosure, unless the animal is wearing a properly fitting muzzle.
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.