For many American families, a dog is more than a pet; it is a member of
the family. Dogs can teach all of us, children and adults alike, about
the true meaning of unconditional love. We understand the important place
dogs (and, indeed, all pets) hold in the hearts of their owners.
We also know that dogs are powerful animals that can and do inflict serious
injuries. One breed - pit bulls - inspires ongoing debate in communities
across the country. We focus more on behavior than breed. From pit bull
attacks to poodle bites, we protect people injured by dogs throughout
the Panhandle region.
Separate Pit Bull Attacks Leave One Child Dead and Another Seriously Injured
In recent weeks, we have seen multiple cases of pit bulls attacking children
in Florida and the surrounding region. According to WEAR and WKRG, an
18 month old child was seriously injured in an encounter with three pit
bulls on in South Alabama an Wednesday July 23. The child's father
said he and his child were outside of their home when he heard the toddler cry out.
He turned to see three pit bulls attacking his daughter. She was taken
to the hospital and initially listed in critical condition. Later, she
remained in intensive care but was upgraded to stable condition. WEAR's
report added that police say the incident was one of three pit bull attacks
in south Alabama during a 24-hour timeframe.
This week, Florida Today also provided an update on a story involving a
4 year old boy who was killed in a pit bull attack in Riverview. On July
19, the child was enjoying ice cream and watching cartoons with a 15 year
old cousin when he slipped away from the teen and went outside. Some details
are a bit unclear, but at around 10:30 PM the boy was attacked and killed
by his uncle's two pit bulls. Police noted the odor of marijuana when
they arrived on scene. The report noted that criminal charges will not
be filed. Although the piece does not discuss civil liability, the father
has hired legal counsel and suggests the uncle was "careless and
Florida Law and the Pit Bull Debate
Few topics relating to animals are as fiercely debated as whether pit bulls
should be kept as pets. Currently, while localities can pass restrictions
relating to dogs that have been specifically declared dangerous, Florida
does not allow local governments to pass breed-specific regulations (Fl.
St. 767.14). Of note, Miami-Dade County does have a fervently debated
ordinance sharply restricting pit bull ownership that pre-dates the state
In general, proponents of such bans suggest the breed is inherently more
dangerous, more aggressive, and more prone to attacking people than other
types of dogs. In contrast, those who oppose breed-specific legislation
generally and pit bull bans specifically say the breed is misunderstood
and that propensity to attack is more about training than breed.
Ultimately, Florida law focuses on behavior over breed. On the civil injury
front, Florida Statute 767.04 holds an owner strictly liable for dog bites,
regardless of whether the dog has a history of biting. Florida law does
impose additional responsibilities on owners of specific dogs that have
been deemed dangerous, adding criminal penalties for failing to properly
restrain such animals (see 767.12 et. seq.). Such laws can, as we've
discussed before, also give rise to negligence per se actions.
Civil Injury Lawyer for Dog Bite Victims
If a dog bite injured you or a loved one, whether the dog was a pit bull
or any other breed, you have legal rights. Call our attorney to discuss
your right to monetary compensation.
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