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Florida Dog Bite Law - A Leash For Your Dog Is Not 100% Legal Protection

Many people living in North Port or Englewood are dog lovers and have man’s best friend as a family member in their own household. Responsible dog owners are aware of the legal obligations that dog ownership brings. In the same way, people with a driver’s license are expected to exercise reasonable care on the road; dog owners are expected to control their pets for the safety of others.

One of the best ways to do this when taking dogs outdoors is to abide by legal requirements and keep a dog leashed in public spaces that are not designated as “off-leash” areas for dogs. Any dog owner is in potential legal trouble if a dog runs free in public, especially if the dog bites someone.

A Dog’s Actions Reflect On The Owner

When it comes to dog behavior, Florida law puts everything squarely on the owner. The owner is legally responsible for the injury if a dog bites someone. There are no exceptions to this, unlike other states where a first attack may be excused if the owner is unaware of a dog’s aggressive behavior up until that point.

However, while the law requires dogs to be leashed, this only applies to public spaces. Leashes protect others by giving the dog owner a measure of control over the dog. In a residence, however, it is a different story.
Here, there is no leash requirement, as long as a dog is in a contained area on the private property. So while a dog can remain unleashed inside a fenced-in backyard, a dog must be leashed in an open front yard, where it can freely approach people on the sidewalk if it chooses.

The Visitor Risk

This is where things can get risky for dog owners, especially with regard to invited visitors. If a dog bites someone in a private residence, the owner is still legally liable for that injury. The only exception is if the visitor is illegally trespassing, such as a thief breaking in to steal home items.

Otherwise, if a child or other visitor interacts with the dog of the home and gets bitten, there are grounds for legal action. In fact, while dog bites can occur in public spaces, most dog attacks in America usually happen within a private residence. Residents themselves are the victims in the majority of these cases. However, visitors come up second. Often these bites occur with children, who are not yet aware enough to interpret the warning signs of agitation or threat a dog may express when it feels provoked. In fact, it is usually an incident like a child interrupting a dog’s eating or playing with it too roughly that results in an attack.

Take Appropriate Precautions

This is why Florida dog owners need to exercise care when visitors and dogs are in the same space. Dogs are protective and territorial and act aggressively against anything they view as a threat, even a visiting child playing with a resident child. And if you are visiting another property and a dog bites you or someone you know, talk to a dog bite attorney about your next move.

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