Do you flinch a little when you walk by your neighbor’s growling dog? Is there a German Shepherd prowling around your apartment complex? Are you concerned about whether your own dog is in compliance with Florida’s dog leash laws?
You aren’t alone.
In fact, dog laws account for some of the most commonly asked questions online.
Man’s best friend isn’t always so friendly, and we all want to protect ourselves. Children and small pets are especially vulnerable, but the truth is that fully grown adults are susceptible to injury or even death when attacked by an aggressive dog.
Much of the confusion stems from the fact that, while Florida does have some statewide rules in place pertaining to a dog owner’s duties in general, Florida’s dog leash laws are generally established on a county-by-county basis.
Miami-Dade County’s Dog Leash Law
Dog owners in Miami-Dade County are required to keep their dogs leashed at all times when outside of their own private property.
The county also has strict rules in place for owners who tether or chain their dog outdoors (whether on private property or not). Requirements for tethering include:
- The owner must be outdoors with the dog.
- The dog must be visible to the owner.
- The dog must be tethered in a manner that prevents injury, entanglement, or strangulation.
- The dog must have access to shelter, water, and dry ground.
- The dog can’t be kept outside during periods of extreme weather (including extreme heat).
- The dog must be at least six months old. Puppies can never be tethered in Miami-Dade County.
- Owners who wish to tether multiple dogs must tether each separately.
- The tether or chain (and harness or collar) must comply with all of the applicable size and mechanical stipulations in the county ordinances.
What Can You Do About an Unleashed Dog?
If you see an owner who is in violation of Florida’s dog leash laws, contact your county’s Animal Services or Animal Control office right away. Owners are subject to fines and other penalties. Some dangerous animals may be restricted or prohibited.
If you’re experiencing a problem with unleashed dogs in an apartment complex or other any other residential or living facility, you should notify your landlord in writing. Keep a copy.
Landlords in Florida have a legal duty not only to comply with the lease terms but also to keep their residents safe from harm (beyond the terms of the lease).
Unleashed dogs may pose an immediate threat to your safety and well being. If the landlord refuses to take action, the Miami attorneys in our office might be able to help.
What if an Unleashed Dog Bites You?
If someone else’s dog bites you — whether leashed or unleashed — you may be entitled to financial damages for your injuries.
Other kinds of attacks can be dangerous too. People have been severely injured after being pounced on by a large or aggressive animal, even if the teeth never make contact.
Often, these cases involve a close community member or even a neighbor. You might surprised to learn, though, that the owners are often on the hook for paying the bill, and not the insurance company. Unless, the owners have a policy that does not exclude dogs.
If you or someone you love was injured in a dog attack in Florida, please contact our Miami attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC as quickly as possible for a free consultation. We can help you demand the financial relief that you need and deserve.