TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new piece of legislation making its way through the Florida 2022 legislative session would remove breed as a factor in policies about “dangerous dogs.” Instead, the bill would change policy requirements to solely focus on their behavior.
Senate Bill 614 adjusts existing “Dangerous Dog” laws in Florida, according to an analysis by the legislature. Existing dangerous dog laws have been in effect since 1990, focused on reducing “unprovoked attacks” and protecting the welfare of the public, according to the state statutes.
Under current law, a dangerous dog refers to dogs who have attacked or severely injured someone on public or private property, has severely injured or killed other pets multiple times while off their owner’s property, or has chased or attacked someone in public, unprovoked.
For a dog to be considered “dangerous,” an animal control authority is required to investigate following reported incidents, and make a determination.
SB 614 doesn’t change any of these classification requirements, and per the senate’s own analysis, breed-specific regulations are already banned in Florida. However, two parts of Florida have breed ordinances in effect due to a grandfather provision in the 1990 dangerous dog law, according to the legislature.
The state of Florida has 99 HUD-registered PHAs, according to the legislature. Of those, 91 are special districts. Currently, PHAs are allowed to have their own pet regulations, mostly focused on pet density, size, weight, type and the option for fees, deposits and pet registration.
The bill adds the line to state statutes that housing authorities, in addition to local governments, may have policies restricting dangerous dogs, so long as they do not focus on breed instead of behavior.
Some provisions by PHAs include breed and behavior, or training requirements to facilitate the pet living with the tenant. Some PHA policies restrict breeds regardless of whether or not an animal control department has found the dog to be deemed “vicious or dangerous” through an investigation.
Specifically, Miami-Dade County and the Sunrise, Fla. in Broward County have ordinances which target pit bulls as a dangerous breed, with ordinances that ban them from purchase, being brought into Miami-Dade County, or “otherwise acquired and regulated due to unique history, nature and characteristics which require special regulation.”
If SB 614 passes, those ordinances would be erased, bringing the two communities in line with the rest of the state’s dog laws and restrictions.
Additionally, SB 614 would adjust the ability of Public Housing Authorities to have specific regulations on household pets for their tenants.
Should the bill take effect and be signed into law, PHAs would be able to impose additional restrictions for owners of dogs that are deemed dangerous, but explicitly would end “any existing restrictions imposed by housing authorities pertaining to specific breeds of dogs” for their tenants, according to legislative analysis.