New Aggressive Animal Ordinance Comes to Seminole County
A new aggressive animal ordinance has taken effect in Seminole County. While Florida law protects residents from aggressive pets, the new ordinance attempts to fill in gaps in the state law to better protect and serve the community.
Seminole County’s aggressive animal ordinance took effect in September 2018. The law changed the requirements needed for animal control officers to label dogs as aggressive or dangerous. These changes impact dog owners and those who may become victims of dog attacks.
Aggressive Dogs Hound, Kill Casselberry Resident’s Yorkie
In November 2017, two dogs attacked a small dog named Reese in Casselberry as the dog’s owner was walking her back from a nearby park. The two large dogs lunged at the Yorkie mix from a front yard. One of them managed to latch onto the dog forcefully enough to kill her. According to the Orlando Sentinel, both dogs had displayed a “long history of lunging at other dogs and people.” They were eventually euthanized.
At the time, Florida law did not permit animal control officers to classify the two dogs as dangerous. County officials stated there was little they could do to prevent the deadly attack because the dogs’ previous incidents were considered “minor” under the state law. The new countywide ordinance seeks to prevent future incidents like this one.
Florida’s Dangerous Dog Law
Under state law, citizens are protected from dangerous dogs and other animals; however, the statute provides that a dog cannot be considered “dangerous” until the dog has met at least one of the following conditions:
- The dog has bitten, attacked, endangered, or seriously injured a person on public or private property
- Killed or severely injured other domestic animals at least twice while off the owner’s property
- Chased or approached a person in a menacing way while unprovoked
Seminole County’s new law targets dogs that, while they do not exhibit behavior severe enough to be considered dangerous under the state’s law, do present a real threat to people and other pets in the community.
Defining an “Aggressive Dog” in Seminole County
Under Seminole County’s new animal ordinance, animal control officers may label any dog that chases or causes an unprovoked minor injury to another dog or person as aggressive. The owners of these dogs must obtain an aggressive dog certificate that they will need to renew annually. Aggressive dogs will not be permitted in public parks or dog-friendly businesses within county lines. They must also be on leashes and muzzled when outside the home.
Liability of Dangerous Dog Owners
Owners of aggressive dogs in Seminole County may be held liable for damages their dogs cause to another person. They may also face penalties for violating the ordinance. These include:
- A fine of $50 for a first violation and up to a $200 fine and a mandatory court appearance for three or more violations within three (3) years.
Owners of dogs deemed aggressive by the State of Florida may face even harsher penalties.
- A fine of up to $500 for any violation of the Dangerous Dog Statute
- A fine of up to $1,000 and a term of up to one (1) year in prison if the dog attacks or bites a person or domestic animal without provocation
- A fine of up to $5,000 and a term of up to five (5) years in prison if the dog attacks and severely injures or kills a person
Aggressive dog owners may be liable for the following damages in a personal injury case:
- All medical bills related to the dog attack, including the costs of plastic surgery and rehabilitation
- Lost wages and earning capacity due to the dog attack
- Pain and suffering caused by the dog attack
Those who sustain a dog bite injury may turn to an Orlando dog bite lawyer for help with their legal complaint.
Seeking Damages for a Dog Attack in Seminole County, Florida
Those who sustain injuries from aggressive animals kept as pets in Seminole County may seek legal representation for their personal injury cases. At The Umansky Law Firm, our attentive and caring personal injury lawyers in Orlando represent victims of dog attacks in Orange and Seminole Counties.
With more than 100 years of combined experience practicing personal injury law throughout Central Florida, you can trust us to fight for the compensation you deserve after a dog bite incident. Attorney William Umansky sits on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association and is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. Call our office or complete our contact form for a free consultation.