Dogs that bite pose a danger to people, as well as a liability to their owners. Proper management and control of potential biters are important. Most states have thorough laws on dog bites and dangerous dogs, and Florida is no exception. Local governments in Florida may enact their own regulations, providing they are not more lenient than the state laws.
Bites to Humans and Other Animals
Florida’s law on “Damages by Dogs” states that a dog owner is liable for any damages that results from his dog biting a person, whether in public or private, including in the owner’s home. This liability may be reduced if the bite is because of the negligence of the person bitten. An owner is also liable for other damages caused by his dog to persons, livestock or domestic animals.
Any dog that causes severe injury or death to a person will be confiscated and quarantined for 10 days at the owner’s expense. The owner may request a hearing during this time. If they do not or if they lose in the hearing, the dog will be destroyed at the end of the 10 days. The owner also may be found guilty of a crime, ranging from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
A dog that has “aggressively bitten” a person may be classified as a “dangerous dog” and subject to strict regulations regarding confinement, licensing and identification. If a dog previously declared as dangerous bites a person without provocation, the dog will be impounded and quarantined for 10 days and then destroyed, barring a successful hearing.
Police dogs and service dogs that bite a person are exempt from the quarantine period if they have a current rabies vaccination. Bites sustained by a person in the process of committing a crime are exempt from dog bite laws.