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A Florida Circuit Court finds the Florida’s Dog Bite Laws Unconstitutional

A judge spared the life of a dog that severely injured a child when it found Florida state dog bite laws unconstitutional. The December 14th decision by Circuit Court Judge Andrew Owens found that Florida’s dog bite laws illegally mandates animal control to confiscate and destroy a dog after it inflicts a severe injury, regardless of the circumstances that led to the injury. The ruling means that a dog that severely injured a four-year-old on June 4 will not be euthanized. The dog’s owner, veterinarian Paul Gartenberg, maintains that the dog reacted to the boy throwing toys. However, the boy’s family alleges that the dog suddenly attacked the boy as they were playing fetch. The boy required stitches and reconstructive surgery. While the family is pursuing a personal injury claim in civil court, the dog’s owner petitioned the court to dispute the constitutionality of the portion of Florida law that allows animal control to confiscate and euthanize his dog. This new decision may have a significant impact on the way courts view dog bite cases in the future.

Florida Law Punishes Owners of Biting Dogs

Florida law holds a dog owner strictly liable for a dog bite victims injuries. This is the case even if the dog has never bitten anyone in the past. Under Florida’s dog bite law, animal control must confiscate and destroy any dog that causes “severe injury” in an expeditious and humane manner. The law does allow the owner to request a hearing while the dog is in custody, however, the law does not allow the dog’s owner to present a defense at this hearing. Judge Owens’ decision found that denying dog owners the ability to present defenses before the court; made the statute “arbitrary and unduly oppressive.”

Dog Bites Impact Victims

Dog bite injuries occasionally kill victims, however, common dog bite injuries include:

  • lacerations,
  • punctures,
  • nerve damage,
  • crush injuries,
  • muscle sprain/strain, and
  • infections.

The emotional and physical impact of an attack may have lifetime consequences for victims. Victims may need extensive physical and psychological therapy before recovering fully. Additionally, dog bite lawsuits are often complex as they often occur at a dog owner’s home and victims are the owner’s relatives or friends. The December 14th decision may have created a pathway for owners to keep their dogs after a dog attack, however, the decision does not absolve owners from responsibility for their dogs actions.

Contact an Attorney

Florida dog bite law allows victims to seek compensation from dog owners to help cover the costs of recovering from their injuries. While dog bites are rarely fatal, they have tremendous on dog owners and dog bite victims. If you are considering pursuing a dog bite claim, speak with the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. We can help you understand the implications of this new court ruling and guide you through a dog bite injury lawsuit. Please contact us today at 305-371-3111 to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.

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