Florida Breed-Specific Legislation

Some homeowners’ insurance companies who are profiling specific dog breeds as dangerous has induced a wave of breed-specific legislation by state and municipal governments to curb dog attack. The SB 1276 in the Florida Senate was intended to allow municipalities to place limits or to deny coverage based on the breed of the dog. The effort appears to have been expunged recently in committee leaving the existing law in place.

Several highly publicized, pit bull attacks in the 1980s resulted in many communities and dog owners objecting to breed discrimination, which has fueled the legislation.

According to the American Kennel Club, only Ohio has a breed-specific dog law, in this case aimed at pit bull owners. However, a handful of states prohibit breed-specific legislation by local governments, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Only Pennsylvania and Michigan have laws that prohibit insurers from canceling or denying coverage based on breed, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

It is essential for homeowners who are also dog owners to carry insurance that will cover the cost of injuries your pet should cause to another person or property, with a personal liability limit of $100,000. Because the dog owner's own relatives, friends and neighbors are the most likely victims of a possible dog attack, having insurance means protecting the people who are closest to the dog owner, thereby protecting valuable relationships and ensuring proper treatment of loved ones.

Be a responsible pet owner. If your pet is overly protective of family members, be sure to put the dog out or secure in another room during visits from non-family members. Be familiar with your breed and know what they are capable of and their requirements.

If you or a family member has experienced a serious dog bite because of the owner’s carelessness or neglect, call my Panama City office today.

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