Defending the "Vicious Dog" in a Tampa Dog Bite Case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL

At the Sammis Law Firm, we represent dog owners after a "dog bite" allegation or after it is alleged that they own a "vicious dog" in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida and the surrounding counties throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area. If you have been charged with a violation of the Hillsborough County, Florida animal ordinance, then call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an attorney about defending the "dog bite" case if the claims against your dog are false or exaggerated.

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If you and your dog have been falsely accused in a "vicious dog" or "dog bite" incident, contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case before you pay the citation.

Collateral Consequences of a Vicious Dog Citation

If the judge finds that your dog is vicious then numerous consequences attach. First, your home owner's insurance may be effected. You pay be required to post signs around your property warning others about the dog. When you go to the vets office, you must notify the vet's office in advance that you have a vicious dog. If any other bite occurs then you can be sued in civil court for money damages and potential prosecuted in criminal court for felony charges.

The bottom line is that if your dog is found to be a vicious dog, then the only rational decision is to destroy the dog. The potential criminal and civil liability is too great to keep the dog even if you really believe that the dog is not vicious. If destroying the dog is not an option, then you should take the citation seriously and hire an experienced attorney to fight the allegation.

Hillsborough County Animal Services - Rabies Program Home Quarantine

Under Florida law, owners of animals involved in bite or exposures are required to quarantine their animals for rabies for a minimum of ten days. The Hillsborough County Health Department or Animal Control may authorize home quarantine for certain animals for 10 days or even longer. Contact the Hillsborough County Animal Services, 440 Falkenburg Road, Tampa, FL 33619 at 813-744-5660 for more information or visit for more information.

Help Avoid Being Sued Over an Alleged Dog Bite or Vicious Dog Incident

Many personal injury law firms represent people who have allegedly been bitten by a dog on a contingency basis to collect civil damages and attorney fees under the dog owner's home owner insurance policy. Your home owners insurance may or may not be liable for any claim.

These civil lawsuits often create a financial incentive for someone to make a false or exaggerated claim of damages in a "dog bite" case. The other side may have an experienced personal injury attorney for the dog bite case, make sure that you are also represented by an experienced defense attorney if you wish to contest the citation.

Find out more about fighting a false allegation in a "dog bite" case for Hillsborough County by calling us at 813-250-0500.

Read a recent news article about Hillsborough County's Dog Court - "Dog Court" and Nick Nazaretian - Tampa, Hillsborough County.

Better yet, watch the entertaining YouTube video from truTV about a recent cases in which a individuals defends themselves against an allegation about her dog being vicious and "on the loose" (the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm were NOT involved in this case. We display the videos here only for informational purposes):

Watch the video on an alleged "Cat at Large":

Sec. 4-34. - Vicious animals and dangerous dogs.

(a) Vicious animals. No person shall allow a companion animal, when unprovoked, to bite, attack, endanger, or inflict injury on a human, domestic animal, or livestock while on public or private property; or chase or approach an individual upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack. Violations of this section may constitute proof of "prior knowledge of a dog's dangerous propensities" under section 767.13(2), Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended.

(b) Dangerous dogs. The provisions of chapter 767, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended, pertaining to dangerous dogs are adopted in their entirety as a part of this article. All procedures, regulations, requirements, and restrictions pertaining to dangerous dogs are applicable under this article, and a violation of the statute shall constitute a violation of this article. Each day the owner of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the requirements of this section or requirements of section 767.12, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended, shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
(1) Dangerous dogs.
a. If the owner wishes to appeal the initial decision of the department to a hearing master, he or she must file a written request with the department director for a hearing within seven (7) days from the date of receipt of the notice of intent to declare the dog dangerous. If requested, a hearing shall be held as soon as possible but not more than twenty-one (21) calendar days and no sooner than five (5) days after the department's receipt of the request.

b. After a dog has been classified as dangerous or a dangerous dog classification is upheld on appeal, the owner of the dog must obtain a certificate of registration from the department within fourteen (14) days, and the certificate must be renewed annually. The department will only issue certificates of registration and their renewals to individuals who are at least eighteen (18) years of age, pay the appropriate fee, and present sufficient evidence of the requirements provided for in section 767.12, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended. In addition to those requirements, the dog's owner must:

1. Sterilize the dog within thirty (30) days of being declared dangerous; and

2. Register for, and attend to completion, dog obedience training from an instructor approved by the department; and

3. Provide the department proof of a current health certificate for the dog issued by a veterinarian; and

4. Have the dog micro-chipped and registered to the owner at his or her current address; and

5. Post approved signage obtained from the department at intervals determined by the department and at all entrances to the property; and

6. When outside its proper enclosure, dangerous dogs must be muzzled, restrained by a substantial chain or leash, and under control of a competent person. In addition, the use of a physical control device such as a passive head restraint collar or harness recommended by the department is required; and

7. Provide access to property and the dog for no less than two (2) inspections annually by the department to verify compliance with the provisions of this article and chapter 767, Florida Statutes (2002) as may be amended; and

8. Receive training provided by the department on responsible pet ownership of dangerous dogs.

c. The department may provide notification to appropriate neighbors and the public advising them of the presence of a declared dangerous dog. Photographs of the dog may be used in providing the public with internet access to dangerous dog information.

d. The Department may confiscate any dog classified as dangerous for euthanasia as a result of the owner's failure to comply with any or all requirements of chapter 767, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended, or any requirement of this section. Should the department confiscate any dog under this section, notice of sufficient cause to confiscate the animal shall be provided in writing to the owner in accordance with section 767.12, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended. The animal shall be held for ten (10) business days after the owner is provided this written notice and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner. This ten-day time period shall allow the owner to request a hearing under section 4-40.11 of this article.

e. Any dog that is exempted from the provisions of chapter 767, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended, shall be exempt from the provision of this section of the article.

f. Any person who owns, harbors, or otherwise provides custody for a dangerous dog shall be responsible for any damage or injury caused by that dog, including, but not limited to, veterinary or medical bills or property damage.

(2) Dangerous dog/severe injury; second attack.

a. If a dog previously declared dangerous attacks or bites a human being or a domestic animal without provocation, in accordance with section 767.13, Florida Statutes (2002), as may be amended, the owner is guilty of a criminal offense.

b. The owner shall be responsible for payment of all boarding costs and other fees as may be required to humanely and safely keep the dog during the pendency of any hearing or appeal procedure, as well as any and all investigative fees accrued by the department.

c. If the owner files a timely written appeal, the department may not destroy the dog while the appeal is pending, except to prevent unnecessary suffering as determined by two (2) veterinarians.

(Ord. No. 00-26, § 9, 6-28-00; Ord. No. 03-8, § 2, 6-4-03)

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