Wakulla County, Florida distinguishes between a “dangerous animal” and a “dangerous dog.” Pursuant to section 6.072 of the Wakulla County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, a “dangerous dog” is defined as any domestic dog, or hybridization thereof, whether alone or in a pack, that according to records has:
1. Aggressively bitten, attack, endangered or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human being while lawfully on public or private property;
2. Killed a domestic animal or has, more than once, severely injured a domestic animal while off its owner’s property;
3. Been used primarily or in port for the purpose of dog fighting or is a dog trained for dog fighting; or
4. When unprovoked, chased or approached a person upon public grounds (i.e., streets, sidewalks, parks, etc) in an apparent attitude attack.
The same section provides the following EXCEPTIONS:
– A dog will NOT be declared dangerous if the attack or injury occurred in one of the following instances:
1. If the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person, who at the time was either lawfully or unlawfully on the owner’s property, and was tormenting, abusing or otherwise assaulting the dog, its owner or a family member.
2. If the dog was protecting or defending a human being from an unjustified attack or assault.
Within 14 days after a dog has been classified as dangerous, the owner of the dog shall do the obtain a certificate of registration for the dog from the animal control authority serving the are in which he resides, this certificate shall be renewed annually. Certificates will only be issued to those owners who are at least 18 years of age and who show sufficient evidence of:
1. A current certificate of rabies vaccination for the dog;
2. A proper enclosure to confine the dog, as well as warning signs at all entry points of the owner’s property to inform both children and adults of the dog’s presence;
3. Permanent and visible identification of the dog (i.e., a tattoo); and
4. Proof of spay or neutering.
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.