Dog Leash Laws

Florida Dog Leash Laws

In the State of Florida, dog ownership is common. You can find dogs in every residential community and in every one of Florida's 67 counties. Dogs are our companions, friends, and, in many instances, family members. Unfortunately, some dogs are not so friendly OR have a singular moment of aggression in the form of a dog bite incident leading to personal injuries. As a Florida Personal Injury Attorney with over 25 years of experience, David A. Wolf is often contacted by clients and prospective clients regarding a dog bite or dog attack incident. In many of these cases, the dog bite victim and the family of the dog bite victim have questions about Florida Dog Leash Laws.

There is no singular statewide Florida Dog Leash Law in place. The State of Florida legislature has left the decision to define, implement, and enforce dog leash laws with the county or city government entity. As such, the dog leash law for a particular city or county is found in the local ordinances and regulations. The dog leash laws vary from city to city and county to county. Furthermore, the enforcement of the applicable dog leash laws varies as well depending on the resources and local procedures for the animal control office. There may also be a difference in the laws and enforcement between more urban cities and more rural cities.

Let's take a look at one of the dog leash ordinances that is in place for the City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. Pursuant to the Jacksonville Florida Code of Ordinances, the dog leash law is spelled out in Section 462.102 (f), Definitions - At Large and Section 462.303 - Animals at-large prohibited. The Sections are below for your review. Many cities and counties have similar laws / ordinances in place; however, it should be kept in mind that the actual laws, requirements, and prohibitions vary from city to city and county to county.

A review of the dog leash laws for Jacksonville Florida reveals that a dog must be on a leash, tether, or other appropriate physical control device when the dog is off of the owner's property. There are areas in which a leash is not required and these areas may be posted or designated as such. For instance, a city designated off leash dog park may be a location in which a dog may be off of a leash even when the dog is off of the owner's property. However, supervision of the dog by the dog owner or other responsible person is still required.

It is important for dog owners and others with the responsibility of caring for or watching a dog keep a dog on a dog leash when the dog is off of the owner's property. Following the applicable dog leash laws can help prevent and avoid many dog bite incidents in the State of Florida. If you have a question about a dog bite incident, contact David A. Wolf for advice, guidance, and when appropriate legal representation. Get D Wolf On Your Side - At Your Side.

Jacksonville Florida Code of Ordinances

Sec. 462.102. - Definitions.

For the purposes of this Chapter, the following terms shall have the following definitions unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

(f) At-large means that an animal is off the property of its owner, unless restrained by leash or tether of appropriate length, or other physical control device, such that the animal is under the physical control of a responsible person, and (i) the animal has entered upon the property of another person without authorization of that person, or (ii) the animal has entered onto public property, street or right-of-way. If the owner's, leaser's, or renter's property is located within a community association or other common-property arrangement, it shall also be considered off the owner's, leaser's, or renter's property if the animal leaves the owner's curtilage and onto common property, unless such property is clearly designated as an 'off-leash' area. An animal on a retractable or other trolley leash system shall be considered at-large if the leash is extended beyond eight feet in length since adequate physical control cannot be maintained over the animal.

Sec. 462.303. - Animals at-large prohibited.

  1. No owner or person having temporary custody of any animal(s) shall permit theanimal(s) or fail to restrain the animal(s) from being at-large, except a dog shall be considered exempt from these provisions if:

    1. The dog is engaged in the performance of duties while under the supervision and control of law enforcement officials performing law enforcement work.

    2. The dog is engaged in any legal hunt or training procedure, including training or exhibiting in legal sports such as obedience trials, conformation shows, field trials, schutzhund, hunting/retrieving trials, and herding trials; however, such dogs at all other times and in all other respects shall be subject to this Chapter.

    3. The dog is in a City-designated or legally established, with proper certificate of use, private "off-leash" dog park and is under the supervision of the owner or a responsible person.

  2. A violation of this Section shall subject the violator to a civil fine of not less than the amount designated inChapter 462, Part 18. Each separate occasion is considered a separate violation. The animal control officer may cite the owner of such animal(s) for violation of this Section when either the animal control officer has received, from at least two unrelated adult witnesses residing at different residences, a sworn affidavit attesting to the animal's having committed a nuisance pursuant to this Section, or the citing animal control officer has witnessed the commission of such a nuisance.
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