Pit Bulls, Dangerous Dogs and Florida Law

Thomas & Pearl Attorneys 01.31.2017

Pit Bulls, Dangerous Dogs and Florida Law

There is probably no dog breed more controversial than the Pit Bull, with one side sure it and related breeds are a menace and the other side—not only animal rights activists, but loyal breed enthusiasts– ready to vigorously defend the dog.

Stories like this one out of Tampa keep the controversy alive:

Tampa Police say a pit bull named Scarface aggressively attacked a family, after they tried to put a sweater on it. The incident occurred in Tampa’s Highland Pines neighborhood, and started after resident Brenda Guerrero, 52, tried to dress the dog in a Christmas-themed sweater. The pit bull mix began biting her outside of the house, and then her husband, 46-year-old Ismael Guerrero, as he tried to pull the attacking dog off of her. Finally, the couple’s 22-year-old son, Antoine Harris, 22, stabbed the dog in the head and neck in an attempt to stop the attack, but then was himself attacked.

The adults managed to escape back into their house, leaving the dog in the backyard. Later, police arrived and used a taser and bean-bag gun and finally, along with Hillsborough County Animal Control Officers using a tranquilizer gun and catchpole, were able to subdue and catch the dog.

All 3 family members were admitted to the hospital, and Brenda Guererro had to undergo surgery, said her granddaughter, Tina Harris.

“She’s doing much better because she can finally move and talk,” said Harris later. Harris said that she had not noticed any prior aggressive behavior from the dog towards her grandmother. “She was really attached to that dog.”

The dog was euthanized due to what Hillsborough County spokeswoman Kara Walker called a “high risk of danger to the public,” along with the threat to the dog itself from the stab wounds sustained.

Pit Bull Laws in Miami-Dade County

It is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds’ characteristics, according to the Miami-Dade County ordinance, Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17. These laws were originally enacted in 1989, and were upheld by voters in August 2012. Animal activists have pledged to keep fighting the legislation that singles out the pit bull as a “dangerous dog.”

Residents are asked that if they are aware of an address at which such a dog is being kept in Miami-Dade County that they contact Animal Services at 305-884-1101, or email the information. Residents may remain anonymous, and their concerns will be forwarded to investigators for action.

Everyone should be aware, however, that all government emails may be subject to public records request, so for complete anonymity, complaints should be mailed to:

3599 NW 79 AVENUE
DORAL, FL 33122

Dangerous Dog Laws in Broward County

Pitbulls are not specifically banned in Broward County, but according to section 4-2 of Broward County, Florida, Code of Ordinances ownership of any “dangerous dog” carries with it specific responsibilities under the law.

A “dangerous dog” is defined as one that:

  • Approached any person unprovoked in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack on public streets, sidewalks, parks, etc.
  • Killed or caused the death of a domestic animal off its owner’s or keeper’s property while unprovoked, or was involved in two or more incidents of severely injuring a domestic animal
  • Aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, killed or otherwise inflicted severe personal injury on a human—which could have happened on either public or private property
  • Been trained for dog fighting or used primarily for dog fighting

And the owners of these animals must:

  • Register the dangerous dog and obtain a dangerous dog license tag within 14 days of the classification of dangerousness
  • Pay for an approved electronic animal identification device (microchip) to be implanted in the animal
  • Renew the special license tag annually
  • Display warning signs on the premises of the dangerous dog—the sign must be capable of being read from the public highway or street
  • Maintain a proper enclosure for the dangerous dog if outdoors, keep the dog securely confined indoors, or if the dog is not so confined, it must be muzzled and kept on a leash.
  • Special care must be taken if the dog is transported, and if the dangerous dog somehow becomes loose or unconfined, notify the proper division immediately.
  • If the dangerous dog is sold or given away, the name, address and telephone number of the new owner must be provided

It should be noted that state law in Florida does not require a dog to be classified as a “dangerous dog” in order to pursue a claim for dog bite injuries. Florida state laws do place the responsibility for dog damage like attacks on both the dog’s owner as well as the animal itself.

What this means is that it is important for any dog owner to maintain control of their animal. This may mean consistent use of leashes, a secure yard with fencing, or keeping the animal indoors.

A victim of a dog bite need only prove that the dog bite itself took place. There is no need to prove dangerous history or propensities to be aggressive in any one dog or breed. Even a dog’s first bite victim can pursue a case of action against the dog’s owner for damages and injuries.


Have you or someone you love been injured in a dog bite incident?

If so, you can receive compensation for the damages suffered and your medical expenses. Before you speak with an insurance company, hospital, or medical firm, the attorneys at Thomas and Pearl want to speak to you.

$150 MILLION in verdicts and settlements

Dog bites can lead to injuries needing surgery—even to death. And these types of incidents are especially tragic if they involve children.

Thomas & Pearl attorneys have the skills and training, plus the financial resources necessary to take on the big companies, and to negotiate settlements favorable for our clients. And Thomas & Pearl Attorneys will absolutely litigate to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

Ask about our experience as attorneys helping victims of dog bite incidents.

Ask about the more than $150M (MILLION) dollars in recent and past jury verdicts and settlements we have gained for our clients.

We’ll evaluate your case situation with you, develop a strategy to win or successfully negotiate the highest amount of compensation for you.

Experienced legal help can make the difference between a successful resolution and losing in court. And you pay nothing unless we get that successful resolution for you.


Contact Thomas & Pearl at any time.

Contact Thomas & Pearl Injury Attorneys. Fighting for Floridians. Call toll free 24/7 at 877-990-HELP (4357), or visit https://thomasandpearl.com

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