A circuit court judge from the 12th Judicial Circuit handed down a ruling
that will save a dog that was slated to be euthanized. The
story of the condemned dog made international headlines after it attacked
a small boy in a veterinarian's office and as a result was condemned to be euthanized.
As word for the story got out, overwhelming support for the dog poured
in from around the globe. Florida law did not give the animal control
authorities any leeway in how to deal with the dog once it was shown that
it did indeed attack and bite a small boy that caused him to go to the
hospital. As a result, the dog’s owner had to go to the courts to
save the dog’s life.
What Happened in This Case
This case began when last year a dog attacked a small boy. Accounts of
exactly what happened vary, but it is clear the dog caused injuries to
the boy. According to at least one account the boy chased the dog around
the doctor’s office, and once the dog was cornered, he lashed out
and injured the boy. From that point on the local animal control authorities
had to take the dog away.
Once the dog was in the custody of animal control services, he was condemned
to die. But the owner appealed to a Circuit Court judge to stay the execution.
His argument was that the dog law was unconstitutional because it did
not differentiate between an aggressive attack and one that is prompted
out of self defense. Luckily for the dog and his owner, the judge in this
case agreed and spared the dog’s life.
its ruling the court declared that Florida’s law which demanded the dog be put down was illogical and inconsistent. The
court emphasized that a dog’s owner must be allowed to assert defenses
such as that a dog was provoked into an attack or that it acted in defense
of a family member. Now, that portion of Florida's dog bite law is
overturned in the 12th Judicial District, but it remains intact in the
rest of the state.
Florida Law on Dog Bites
The particular Florida law in question for this case is
Florida Statute 767.13(2). That provision requires that a dog who causes serious injury to a human
being be immediately confiscated by the local animal control authority
and destroyed within ten days. The ten day period allows a dog’s
owner to appeal the decision to destroy the dog at a hearing, but that
hearing is not given any latitude if the dog did indeed severely harm a human.
The local county attorney for the district in which this decision was handed
down decided that they will not appeal the decision. In fact, the Florida
legislature will decide whether to pass legislation in the upcoming session
to change the language of this law to include defense for dogs that act
because they were provoked or in defense of their family.
Panama City Area Dog Bite Attorney
While this is a victory for this dog’s owner, it must be stated that
pet owners have a responsibility to ensure their animals do not harm others.
When dogs bite they can change a life forever and even kill. At
The Pittman Firm we fight on behalf of dog bite victims in the Panama City area and help
them get the just and fair compensation they deserve. If you have been
injured by a dog,
contact us. We look forward to going over your case with you and providing you with
the legal counsel your case deserves.
See related blog posts:
Florida Dog Attack Getting National Attention;
A Look Back on Florida Dog Bite Laws.