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Home > Dog Bite Law, Florida Dog Bite Law > Florida Dog Bite Law: What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone?

Florida Dog Bite Law: What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone?

November 20th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Under Florida dog bite law, a dog owner whose dog bites someone may be sued in civil court by the dog bite victim.  The dog owner may also face criminal charges under Florida law, up to and including homicide in the worst cases.  Under some circumstances, the dog may have to be destroyed.

What Happens Under Florida Law When a Dog Bites Someone?

What Happens Under Florida Law When a Dog Bites Someone?

The Florida Dangerous Dog Act

Florida’s Dangerous Dog Act provides that if a dog that has not been declared “dangerous” by the animal control authority attacks and causes severe injury or death to a human, the dog will be confiscated by the authority and impounded or quarantined.  If the dog’s owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities, but demonstrated reckless disregard under the circumstances, the owner may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment.

If a dog that has already been classified as a dangerous dog attacks or bites a person or a domestic animal without provocation, the dog’s owner faces a first-degree misdemeanor charge.  A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison.

If a dog that has previously been classified as a dangerous dog attacks and causes severe injury or death to a human, the owner faces a third-degree felony charge.  Such a charge carries a potential sentence of five years in prison.

In Extreme Cases, the Dog’s Owner May be Charged with Manslaughter

If a dog kills a human and if the owner has demonstrated a high level of disregard for human life, the State of Florida may charge the dog’s owner with manslaughter by culpable negligence, regardless of whether or not the dog was ever classified a dangerous dog under the law.  Manslaughter by culpable negligence is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Will a Dangerous Dog be Euthanized?

When a dog attacks or bites someone in Florida, the dog will be immediately confiscated by the animal control authorities and will either be placed in quarantine, if appropriate, or impounded.  The dog’s owner will be provided with written notification of the dog’s quarantine or impounding and the dog will be held for 10 business days to give the owner time to file a written appeal.  If the owner does not appeal, the dog will be humanely destroyed.

If the owner files an appeal, the dog may not be destroyed while the appeal is pending.  The dog’s owner will be responsible for all boarding costs and other fees necessary to keep the dog during the appeal procedure.  If the owner loses the appeal, the dog may be destroyed.

What If My Dog Bit Someone While Protecting Me?

What If My Dog Bit Someone While Protecting Me?

What if the Dog is Protecting the Owner?

If the dog attacks or bites someone who is committing a crime or attempting to commit a crime at the time of the attack, the owner will not be guilty of any crime.

It is also important to note that a dog will not be declared dangerous under Florida law in the first place if the person who is bitten by the dog was trespassing on the owner’s property or was tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog or the dog’s owner or family member.  Further, no dog will be declared dangerous if the dog was protecting or defending a human within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault.

Additional Sources:  § 775.082, Florida Statutes (2009); Freeman v. State, 969 So. 2d 473 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

Additional Resources:  Homeowner Insurance for Dog Bites, How to Hire an Attorney

Disclaimer:  This article is in no way intended as legal advice.  For help with specific legal issues surrounding Florida’s dog bite law, or the dog bite laws in your jurisdiction, please contact a dog bite attorney in your local area.

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  1. November 21st, 2009 at 20:25 | #1

    me likey that you followed up my question! thanks Frankie! you rock… tho it’s in FL and not CA, it’s kinda cool to know what one state law says…
    Wild Dingo´s last blog ..Juno Belle Jodhpurs Exposed! My ComLuv Profile

  2. Suzanne
    November 22nd, 2009 at 11:49 | #2

    @Wild Dingo
    Hey Dingo! Stick with me because I’m planning on discussing and, where possible, linking to the various state laws affecting dog owners. This should include such issues as dog bite law, animal cruelty statutes, legislation dealing with dog breeders and laws affecting people who use service animals. I’ve decided to start with dog bite law because I think it has the potential to affect just about any dog owner.

    It is an ambitious goal that is going to take time. (I’m only one Law Dog, after all!) I will tackle the more heavily populated states first, so California will most likely be next, followed by New York and Texas.


  3. November 24th, 2009 at 02:32 | #3

    That’s so cool! You have a nice NICHE frankie. and Frankly (no pun) i think you need to market it more than you do… ufnortunately, marketing it takes as much time as it does to write the dang stuff. then you have your day job to do too…

    and then who has time to walk the doggies, make dinner, and sleep? forget about your own exercise time or house projects…

    darn this Internet has not made life much easier, has it?

    we’ll be watching for more!
    wild dingo
    Wild Dingo´s last blog ..Pardon me… My ComLuv Profile

  4. Suzanne
    November 24th, 2009 at 09:39 | #4

    @Wild Dingo
    Haha! Thanks for the encouragement, Dingo! If only I could figure out a way for the blog to market itself while I sleep. :)

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