A commissioner in Florida is proposing that the state toughen its dog laws. Under current Florida law, a dog will not be classified as dangerous until it has killed or severely injured another domestic animal more than once. The commissioner wants to have that law changed so that a dog can be labeled as dangerous the first time it kills or injures another animal.
The reason he wants the dog law changed is because a family in his district had a dog that was attacked by a pitbull, and later had to be put down. Since the pitbull did not have a history of hurting other animals it will not be put on Florida's dangerous dog list. The commissioner is calling the current rule the "one free kill rule," and plans on lobbying the legislature to change it.
Florida Dangerous Dog Laws
The current process for classifying a dog as dangerous under Florida law can be complicated. Following a report that a dog is dangerous, an animal control authority must investigate the incident and the dog itself. During the investigation a dog must be confined to the dog owner's premises, and the dog can't be sold, given away, or otherwise taken from the dow owner's control.
Declaring a dog dangerous after an attack or incident is not automatic. There are several instances when a dog will not be declared dangerous:
- If the person who was attacked was unlawfully on the property of the dog owner.
- If the person who was attacked was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog.
- If the dog was protecting or defending another person during the attack.
If a dog attack happened in any one of the above circumstances, the a dog will not be declared dangerous. But if the investigator finds that the there is sufficient cause to declare the dog dangerous, the owner will have the chance to appeal the decision. If in the end the dog is labeled as dangerous, there are a host of requirements the dog's owner will have to go through if he or she wants to keep the dog.
Florida Dog Bite Laws
Florida's dog bite laws are similar to the dangerous dog laws. Under Florida's dog bite laws, a victim of a dog bite is entitled to recover from the dog's owner as long as the victim was lawfully in a public or private place when the attack took place. But there is a caveat to the liability: if the person bit was at all negligent in causing the dog bite, then any recovery will be reduced by the percentage of his or her negligence. Meaning, if someone provokes a dog or is otherwise negligent in causing himself to be bit, then his recovery will be reduced by the percentage his actions caused the bite.
There is an additional caveat to Florida's dog bite laws. If the dog bite happened on the dog owner's property, and if the dog owner displayed a sign saying "bad dog" in a prominent place, then the owner won't be liable as long as he or she was negligent. But this caveat does not apply to injuries to children under the age of six.
Florida dog bite laws have many different twists and turns, but if you are injured by a dog, you should contact The Pittman Firm. Wes Pittman is an experienced attorney that will fight to ensure you are compensated for any damages you sustained.