Hernando County Ordinance Cracks Down on Dangerous Dogs
If a dog bites someone one time, is it aggressive and dangerous? According to a new ordinance in Hernando County, just one bite is enough to be a problem.
Defining Aggressive Dogs
The ordinance, passed after complaints about dog attacks, aims to impose harsher penalties on owners of dangerous dogs. In Florida, a dog is dangerous if it:
- Aggressively bites, attacks, or inflicts severe injury on a human being, either on public or private property
- Severely injures or kills a domestic animal on more than one occasion
- Chases a person on public property in a manner that is clearly aggressive
In Florida, a dog is generally considered dangerous if it attacks a person on more than once. This means that dogs that exhibit aggressive behavior often get a pass after their first offense. This also allows dangerous dogs to be in the community without warnings or restrictions, setting the scene for another incident.
New Dog Laws in Hernando County
The ordinance in Hernando County hopes to combat this problem by introducing greater penalties on people whose dogs display aggressive behavior, even after just one incident. It increases the maximum fine for the owner of a dog that harms another person or animal, and states that anyone who violates the new rules more than once in a 24 month period faces the possibility of losing their right to own or keep dogs. Additionally, any dog that attacks someone needs to register as “aggressive” in an online database. Owners must also have extra insurance for dangerous and aggressive dogs to cover any damage that their dog might cause.
The ordinance does make exceptions for guard dogs. In many cases, people might need an aggressive dog in order to feel safe and protected on their own property. However, it must have a county license and be micro-chipped and insured.
By imposing the same penalties for both aggressive and dangerous dogs, Hernando County aims to put a greater emphasis on identifying and controlling problematic dogs. By punishing the owner after a dog attacks someone for the first time, it will hopefully deter people from owning purposefully aggressive dogs, and will teach owners to address their dog’s bad behavior before it leads to something worse.
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