Our Pembroke Park dangerous dog attorneys wrote last week about a dog attack on a Broward County couple. Fresh in the wake of that story, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a piece Dec. 20 about the dangerous dog law in Broward County. The law is among the toughest in Florida, because it requires dogs to be put to death after one attack on a human or another animal, with limited appeals allowed for the dogs’ owners. According to the Broward County article, the law is being reconsidered in part because of publicity surrounding the release of two dogs who attacked while they were on leashes, who have been released after the owners settled lawsuits with the county. The law also became a political issue in recent elections. In response, the Sun-Sentinel investigated the circumstances behind the majority of dog attacks in the county.
The newspaper concluded that Brandie and Gigi, the two dogs who were released, were not typical of the 62 dogs accused of being dangerous since the law passed in 2008. Both of them were on leashes when they attacked and killed smaller dogs. More typical was a third dog on the “death row,” Mercedes, who attacked and killed a neighbor’s sleeping cat after a gardener let her out of the yard. Most of the dogs had attacked other pets, the newspaper said, but they were usually loose rather than leashed, and often working in groups. In 17 of the cases, the victims were human beings. In one of those, a dog leaped a fence in Deerfield Beach to attack a 12-year-old boy, who was hospitalized for six days. Another case involved a dog attacking a blind man walking his own dog. That man told the newspaper he threw his body over his dog’s to protect it. And a 10-year-old girl was attacked while playing at a friend’s home, where a dog tore a piece of muscle out of her arm.
As a Miramar dog bite lawyer, I hope Broward County authorities take incidents like these into consideration when they think about amending the law. Some changes may be just, but it’s absolutely essential to continue protecting the public from dangerous dogs. When dogs attack human beings, the victims are disproportionately likely to be children, who are smaller, closer to the ground, louder and less likely to understand canine behavior. Dogs can outright kill smaller pets and children, and do serious damage to older kids and adults. In addition to literally ripping victims’ flesh off, dog attacks can damage organs, break bones and cause serious secondary infections. And as the newspaper’s investigation shows, many of the attacks come when the dogs are running loose against local leash laws. Without an incentive to keep potentially dangerous pets locked up, owners may find it all too easy to negligently let their dogs run around unsupervised.