An increased focus on animal rights has stirred up controversy over Florida’s dog bite laws. Come see how their amendments may affect other state laws as well.

Changes to Florida’s Dog Bite Law Could Affect Other States

Posted on Jan 19, 2016

viscious dogRevisions to the current Florida dog bite law are presently being addressed by the state legislature. Current laws state that if a dog attack seriously injuries the victim, the dog in question will be put down. Washington has a similar law which states that the animal control authority shall destroy the confiscated dangerous dog. However, after national attention was brought to a certain case involving a four-year-old black Lab named Padi, revisions to this law are starting to gain traction.

Saving Padi

The incident occurred midway through 2015, when Padi bit part of a four-year-old child’s ear off. The dog’s owner claimed that the dog had retreated under a desk in fear, but was followed by the child, who provoked the dog. However, as a result of Florida’s aggressive dog bite laws, no matter who was to blame for the attack, Padi should have been sentenced to death. This is the point that made national news.

Judge Andrew Owens, a circuit judge for the case, made headlines in December of 2015 when he spared Padi’s life and ruled that Animal Services didn’t have the right to euthanize the pet. As a result of the national attention, a number of sympathetic dog owners approached state senator Bill Montford asking for help with the prejudicial laws.

The Legislation

The proposed amendment to the current laws would stall euthanasia decisions in order to give an opportunity for the owner to appeal the death sentence, as well as have the time to fully investigate the circumstances of the attack.

Animal rights’ activist and lobbyist Jack Cory promoted this new amendment by pointing out that when a person feels threatened and shoots someone, he is protected by ‘stand your ground’ laws. However, if a dog feels threatened, or thinks his owner is threatened, and acts to defend himself, the dog is deemed to be a dangerous and in most cases can be killed. The legislation has cleared three committees so far without a single “no” vote and is expected to pass.

What This Means for Washingtonians

Although the amendment affects Florida laws only, the national coverage it has received opens up debate for national law changes. This means that the similar Washington dog bite laws may soon be subject to change as well, making liability for dog bites harder to prove.

For more information on current Washington dog bite laws and legal options, feel free to browse our article collection, or contact us directly for support and guidance.


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