Florida’s Dog Bite Laws

National Dog Bite Prevention Week starts April 9th. Our canine companions are wonderful and loyal companions, but at the end of the day, they are very much driven by their instincts. Even loyal pups can be motivated by prey drive or territorial behavior! A Tampa, FL vet discusses Florida’s dog bite laws below.


Here in the Sunshine State, dog owners are held liable for any damage their dogs cause, even if their pet has never been aggressive before. Dogs that have attacked people or pets may be classified as dangerous, and must be confined and/or confiscated while the investigation is pending. 

Charges may range from first-degree misdemeanors to third-degree felonies, depending on the situation. If a dog that was previously declared dangerous attacks someone, the owner may be charged with aggravated assault, which is punishable by heavy fines and up to five years’ imprisonment. You can find Florida’s dog-related laws online here: just type ‘dog’ into the search box.


There are some instances in which owners might not be held liable for bites. For instance, if you have posted a sign in your yard warning others that your dog is dangerous, you would likely not be liable if someone is bitten on your property, unless they’re under the age of six. Other possible exceptions are when dogs bite to protect their owners and/or when intentionally provoked.


As always, prevention is key. First and foremost, never approach, pet, or feed a strange dog. You should also never tease Fido, as it’s basically provoking him. Because dogs may bite when startled, you should also avoid touching a sleeping dog or approaching one from behind. Another thing that is important to know? Never look a strange dog in the eye. In doggy ‘language,’ that may be considered a challenge! You also shouldn’t scream, move quickly, or run away. If you have children, it’s also important to make sure they understand these things. 

As to your own pet, if you know or suspect that your pooch may be dangerous, be extremely diligent about keeping him leashed or in securely-fenced areas at all times. We also strongly recommend reaching out to a professional dog behaviorist to work with Fido. Proper training can make a world of difference! 

As your local Tampa, FL animal clinic, we’re dedicated to offering the best veterinary care around. Contact us anytime!


Comments are closed.