Proposed Changes to Florida Dog Bite Laws

A Florida legislator is proposing changes to Florida’s dog bite laws. The proposed changes are coming on the heels of a story that has garnered national attention this year. In that story, a dog was allegedly cornered by a small child in a veterinarian's office when the dog lashed out and bit the boy’s ear. The boy had to have stitches and other treatment as a result.

Under the law as it is written, this meant that the dog had to be euthanized. At this news, there was what seemed to be a nationwide outcry to save the dog. A lot of the dog’s supporters felt like the dog was justified in how it reacted because it was cornered by the child when it lashed out. It is in this environment that the Florida legislator proposed this new law.

Florida’s Current Dog Bite Laws

Under Florida’s current dog bite laws, there is not a lot of leeway when it comes to what will happen to a dog that bites another person. Florida Statutes 767.13 outlines what will happen to a dangerous dog that bites another person and causes serious damages. Under those provisions, if a dog bites another person and causes serious injury, then it must be immediately confiscated by the local animal authority and then euthanized.

The law does allow a dog owner to challenge the dog being euthanized by filing an appeal underFlorida Statutes 767.12. But even that process is not guaranteed, and only under certain specific circumstances will a dog be let off the hook from being terminated.

Proposed Changes: What the Bill Would Do

Under the proposed legislation, there would be more of a process that authorities would have to go through to put a dog down. It would also add exceptions to the law if a dog attacks under the following circumstances:

  • If the attacked person was unlawfully on the property;

  • The person was abusing the dog; of,

  • The dog was defending a human.

In those circumstances a dog owner would have the dog returned to him by a hearing officer, and the dog would not be put down. Supporters of this bill are calling it a common sense approach to the complicated problem of dog bites.

Panama City Dog Bite Attorney

Increasingly our society is a dog-owning and loving society. That means that people interact more with dogs today than ever before. Unfortunately, that also means that the chances of being bitten by a dog are also increased. There are situations in which a bite may be justified, but more often than not the dog is the one at fault.

It is in these situations that an experienced dog bite attorney is an invaluable asset to the victim of a dog bite. Florida law protects its citizens from being bitten by dogs and puts a requirement on dog owners whose dogs attack. It is the owner that should and will be brought to pay for the damages that a dog can inflict. At The Pittman Firm, we defend the rights of dog bite victims. If you have been bitten by a dog, contact us. We look forward to speaking with you and providing you with your legal options.


See related blog posts: Florida Dog Attack Getting National Attention; A Look Back on Florida Dog Bite Laws.
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