My Dog is a “Killer-machine”? I can’t bring it with me to Florida?
Well, there is not much you can do about perception, which means that certain breeds of dogs are considered more dangerous than others. Is it justified? Well, we don’t know. Statistically, some breeds like Dobermans, German Shepherds, or Pit bulls are more often involved in, sometimes fatal, attacks. However, statistics are not always right. The outcome depends on how you read them and how they were done.
The Owners are often not innocent
In most cases, those dogs have earned their bad reputation due to the mistreatment of their owners. Many, especially many young male dog owners, train their dogs to become as aggressive as they can be. Those dogs are mainly used as „weapons“; they are meant to attack, scare other people away, or boost their ruffled ego. Some are even still used in illegal dog fights. However, other factors added to the bad reputation as well.
Pit Bulls and other Dogs
Especially some members of the terrier family became very popular among young criminals and younger men without self-esteem. The American Pitbull Terrier, Stafford Shire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier became the dog of choice for those people. They are powerful, assertive, energetic, and prone to chase. Those dogs can easily be transformed into a mean attack-machine. They can be turned into gruesome and relentless fighters and killers. It is not uncommon that those dogs, once out of control, even attack and kill their owner.
A Pet is still an Animal
Well, some people don’t want to realize that their sweet pet is still an animal. In certain situations, their instincts can overwhelm their training. If the owner is not aware of it, this can end in a tragedy. The dog owner should always keep in mind that under certain conditions, like distress or fear, the sweetest animal can instantly become dangerous. And the damage inflicted by an 80 lbs Pitbull (compared to the bites of a 20 lbs dachshund) can be pretty significant – if not fatal.
Only if you know what you are doing
If trained and handled correctly, those dogs can be wonderful pets and loyal companions. Nevertheless, they need to be trained to know their limits. Some dog owners do an excellent job. You and you can see and feel the strong bond between the human and their animal. But it requires constant work. The dog always needs to be reminded of what his limits are. In certain situations, this special bond can be a mixed blessing. If the owner gets attacked, the furry friend will protect him. Fine. If the dog misinterprets the action of a person as an attack, the turnout can instantly become a regretful one.
Not all Dogs are Equal
It is unfortunately not uncommon that people get killed or severely mauled by German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman, Mastiffs or Pitbulls. The chances are fortunately still slim that that will happen to you, but a small number of people get killed each year. For the ones who do get killed, it is one too many. Kids and older people fall victim to fatal dog attacks more often, because they move funny or do not approach the dog correctly (from the dog’s point of view).
The average hospital bill of non-fatal attacks is somewhat around $20,000. That amount indicates that the outcome of such an event is often more than a few scratches.
The average rate of „murders“ by dogs in the US is about 30 – 35 victims per year, which is really not too bad, but many people are still scared when they unexpectedly look into the eyes of a Mastiff or Pitbull.
Does Florida ban certain Breeds?
Now, the question often asked is: Can I move to Florida with my good behaving dog? Are Pit Bulls generally prohibited in Florida? Read more about pet-friendly communities in Venice and Sarasota.
The answer is: No! They are not banned. There is only one county in Florida, out of 67, that bans Pit Bulls…and the winner is… Miami-Dade County. In 1990, Florida legislator prohibited any municipality from passing legislation that targets a particular breed. But such a ban was already established in Miami-Dade in 1989. Therefore, the law was already grandfathered in, and they kept it. So, Miami-Dade is out of the picture if you want to bring your “baby” to Florida.
Now, what about the other counties?
They do not have a ban on particular breeds, but they have a set of rules for all k-9’s. The communities can define those rules further… and landlords can impose whatever they want. Eventually, you have only one chance to bring your dog, and that is if you declare that your Pit is a hamster. Kidding.
HOA’s are powerful, and they can possibly override the State. If they put it in their rules, it is basically set in stone. You have no chance to get your Pit approved.
General Rules for Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte County
The dog is a dangerous animal if:
- it unprovoked chased or approached another person
- attacked a person
- attacked or injured a domestic animal
- found at large 3x within 18 months
- was impounded by animal control 3 x(no time period)
- was found a threat to public health or security
That is a pretty clear explanation and does not give a lot of leeway for interpretation. There is no particular breed mentioned; therefore, it doesn’t make a difference if the „ attacker“ is a Pitbull or a „Wiener.“ If they misbehave, both will be locked up in „doggy jail.“ For more accurate information, please check their websites.
Home Owners Associations may have other rules as well
The communities or HOA’s can make it more stringent. They can ban specific breeds, but they do it more elegantly with weight restrictions. When they impose a 35 lbs weight limit, Pitbulls or German Shepherds are not in the picture anymore. Once they permit 100 lbs or more, they will usually mention breeds they do not want to see in their community in their covenants. If you are in doubt that they can do it, take the covenants to a lawyer. There is a very slim chance that he can help you, but a high chance that you are wasting your money.
Condo Associations and Co- Ops often have a very tight set of pet – rules, single family home subdivisions are not so strict. There are many communities, even gated communities, permitting all breeds of dogs. Some are extremely dog-friendly, but only if they are not a nuisance. The owners and dogs have to obey certain rules (being on the leash and cleaning up after the dog), but if they behave, nothing will restrict their joy.
Renters have no easy life
Renters, in general, have more restrictions on pets. Many communities in Florida do not permit pets at all for renters, no matter what breed. So, when it comes to pets, all people are equal, but owners and renters are treated differently. Even if the community “okays” the renter’s pet, the landlord can still say “ney.” This has nothing to do with discrimination because it is his property, and he can set the rules. The renter can do nothing about it. Oh, yes, he can. Buy a house for himself and his buddy.
Well, if your dog is a service animal or emotional support animal, you are opening another can of worms. Now it gets a lot more complicated.
Two more things:
There are quite a few insurance companies which do not write homeowner’s policies when a Pit Bull, Doberman or German Shepherd lives in your house. They fear that your dog is a time bomb and will sooner or later eat all your neighbors, and they have to pay for the meal. Be prepared for that obstacle. You might have to shop around for a while before you get insurance. But keep in mind, that not mentioning your dog to the insurance agent is not an option at all. If they find out your policy is nothing more than unpleasant bathroom tissue, and if something happens and your “buddy” is not on their list, you wasted your premium. They will decline to pay, and they can do that.
Sorry, no Test Bite
Furthermore, your dog does not get a “free” test – bite in Florida. If that happens, the laws in the Sunshine State are strict, and you and your dog will not easily get off the hook of law enforcement – if at all.
Once your dog is classified as a “dangerous animal,” because it attacked or injured another domestic animal, unprovoked chased or approached another person or was found a thread to public health and safety, both of you are on Animal Control’s watch list. That is not a lovely spot to be. Once your dog is speeding up the trip of the guy with a walker next door for the second time – the game is over.
What does our Krystal Ball tell us?
Will Florida’s counties stay a Pitbull friendly place forever? That we can not answer, dear pet lover. A lawmaker from Tampa tried already two times unsuccessfully to impose restrictions for the Tampa area. As long as he is in Government, he will probably try again and again. Will he be successful one day? We don’t know. Would other counties follow and impose restrictions as well? We don’t know either. We know, though, that it is in the hands of the pet owners and their dogs how they are perceived in public. If more unnecessary accidents with Pitbulls happen, the more likely non-dog owners will ask for protection. So, don’t let that happen.
Need help to find a place for you and your “killer”? Yes, we can help! There are quite a few communities and condos where you can bring your Pitbull. Send us an email.