Published on:

South Florida Counties Reconsidering Dangerous Dog Laws After High Profile Cases

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.

Even when there are no criminal penalties for a vicious dog attack, Florida law still allows victims to sue owners for negligence leading to the attack. Cohn, Smith & Cohn represents people who have been seriously hurt in a dog attack, including parents of seriously injured children. Our Boca Raton dog attack attorneys frequently hear from victims who are reluctant to pursue a claim, even though their medical bills are high, because the dog’s owner is a friend or relative they don’t wish to hurt financially. Fortunately, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance covers dog attacks, which means victims are really making a claim on that insurance policy — not on the personal assets o the dog’s owner. These lawsuits allow victims to recover money for all past and future medical bills, therapy for traumatized children and compensation for any permanent scarring, disability or death.

If you or someone you love has been attacked by a dog whose owner had a responsibility to watch it more carefully, you should talk to Cohn, Smith & Cohn about making a claim. To learn more or set up an appointment, send us a message online or call our main Pembroke Pines office at (954) 431-8100.

Contact Information