Recent Florida Dog Attack Puts Pit Bull Ban Back in Spotlight

Oct 26, 2011 Posted by in Premises Liability

Once again a young Florida child is the victim of a vicious dog attack. The latest dog-bite accident left an eight-year-old Deerfield Beach boy with a broken arm and bites to his face, arms and legs. He required over 30 stitches to repair the wounds caused by the pit bull, according to an article in the Sun-Sentinel.

The violent dog attack has the boy’s mother, and others, calling for a ban on pit bulls and similar breeds with a history of violence against people and other animals. The mother also believes owners of the animals should be held liable for their dogs’ aggressive behavior. She cited Miami-Dade County’s Pit Bull Law as a model.

Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban states that in Miami-Dade County, it is illegal to either keep or own American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, or any other dog that considerably conforms to the characteristics of these three breeds. Violating this law may result in removal of the dog from the owner and a fine of $500.

However, Miami-Dade’s law was found unenforceable in a 2009 case. A hearing officer ruled that the ban “is too vague, and the county cannot enforce the finding by animal control that a dog is a pit bull that must be euthanized or removed from the county,” according to a press release by the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation.

Celebrity dog trainer Cesar Millan, known as the Dog Whisperer, found Ontario, Canada’s pit bull ban to be an “unfair law based on ignorance.” The Ontario pit bull ban makes it illegal to own, breed, transfer, abandon or import pit bulls or other breeds “substantially similar” to pit bulls. In November 2009, Millan requested an exemption for Junior, his pit bull “ambassador,” from Ontario’s pit bull ban, but was denied by the Attorney General. Millan contends that any breed specific ban simply gets rid of the dog, but does not do anything to “train” the owners who may handle another breed of dog the same way – leading the dog to violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dogs bite about 4.5 million people each year. Almost one in five persons who are bitten require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries. Statistics show that the incidence of dog bite injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years old. Approximately two-thirds of dog bite injuries to children four years and younger are to the head and neck.

The CDC conducted a 20-year review of dog bites (between 1979 and 1998) and found that at least 25 breeds of dogs were involved in 238 human dog bite related fatalities.

However, pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of the deaths. The agency concluded that while fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem for pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers, other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. The CDC added that this data should not be used by jurisdictions in policy-making decisions related to dog breed bans.

There have been several attempts by Florida legislators to allow municipalities in Florida to pass breed-specific laws, but each time the bills have died in committee. The failure of a 2010 bill, HB 543/SB 1276, leaves in place the current Florida state law, which prohibits municipalities from passing breed-specific laws.

Our Treasure Coast dog bite injury attorneys realize that regardless of any laws, there are some dogs that will turn violent and will harm a family member, a neighbor, a friend, or an innocent bystander. We encourage all dog owners to be vigilant in keeping their dog confined as appropriate. Further, we ask that parents keep an eye on their children and teach them appropriate behaviors around dogs.

Contact an Experienced Florida Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today

If a dog has attacked you or a family member, it’s important to understand whether the dog’s owner should be held responsible for your injury. Talk to a caring Florida dog bite injury lawyer to understand your legal rights. I am attorney Philip DeBerard. I have more than three decades of experience helping Florida individuals and families recover from serious injuries caused by the negligence of others, including vicious dog attacks and dog bites.

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, concentrates on helping dog bite victims in Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Stuart, Okeechobee, Vero Beach and Palm Beach. Call 1-800-299-8878 or fill out our online contact form.

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