Leash Law

Sec. 5-32. Classification of dogs as dangerous or potentially dangerous; confinement and quarantine of animals; exemption; appeals; unlawful acts.
  • (a) The animal services division shall investigate incidents involving any dog that may be dangerous or potentially dangerous and shall, if possible, interview the owner and require a sworn affidavit from any person, including any animal control officer or enforcement officer, desiring to have a dog classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous. An animal that is subject to a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog investigation will be impounded at animal services pending the outcome of the investigation and resolution of any hearings related to the dangerous or potentially dangerous dog classification. Alternative impoundment locations will only be considered for extenuating circumstances. No dog that is the subject of a dangerous dog investigation may be relocated or ownership transferred pending the outcome of an investigation or any hearings related to the determination of a dangerous dog or potentially dangerous classification.
  • (b) By resolution, the board of county commissioners will appoint an animal services classification committee and delineate its duties and responsibilities.
  • (c) The division manager shall make an initial determination as to whether there is sufficient cause to classify the dog as dangerous or potentially dangerous. The division manager shall classify any dog as a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog in the event he/she determines that the dog meets the requirements for dangerous or potentially dangerous dog as specified in section 5-29, Orange County Code. A dog shall not be classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was unlawfully on the property, or while lawfully on the property, tormented, abused or assaulted the animal or its owner or a family member or a guest of the owner. No dog may be classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous if the dog was protecting or defending a human being within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault. The division manager shall provide written notice to the owner or keeper of such animal by registered mail, certified hand delivery, or service in conformance with the provisions of F.S. ch. 48, relating to service of process. The written notice shall include the basis for declaring the dog dangerous or potentially dangerous, a description of the dog, and the responsibility of the owner or keeper for maintenance of the dog. If the owner decides to appeal the initial determination of dangerous or potentially dangerous, they may request a hearing before the animal services classification committee to show cause why such dog should not be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous. The request for a hearing must be filed, in writing, with the division manager within seven (7) working days after receipt of written notice of the division manager's determination or action. The written hearing request must briefly state the grounds therefore and list the names and addresses of any witnesses the owner intends to call at the hearing. If the division manager receives a timely written request for a hearing regarding a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog classification, he/she shall immediately refer the request, completed investigation, and initial determination to the classification committee. The classification committee shall schedule a hearing to be held not more than twenty-one (21) working days and no sooner than five (5) working days after the division manager's receipt of the request from the owner.
  • (d) If the classification committee upholds the division manager's determination that a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous, the division manager shall send a written notice of such classification, by registered mail or certified hand delivery, to the owner of the animal classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous. If the classification committee upholds the division manager's determination that the dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous, or if the classification committee is unable to meet the time frames set forth in this section, or is unable to make a decision, the owner may file a written request with the clerk of the court for a de novo evidentiary hearing in the county court, pursuant to F.S. § 767.12, to appeal the classification within ten (10) business days after receipt of the classification committee's determination of dangerous or potentially dangerous dog classification. The owner must confine the dog in accordance with subsection 5-32(e) as defined pending a resolution of the appeal.
  • (e) Within fourteen (14) calendar days after a dog has been classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous, the owner of the dog must obtain a certificate of registration and dangerous or potentially dangerous dog identification tag for the dog from the animal services division. The dog shall wear the identification tag at all times. The certificate of registration shall be renewed annually. Certificates of registration shall only be issued to persons who are at least eighteen (18) years of age and who present to the animal services division sufficient evidence of:
    • (1) A current certificate of rabies vaccination for the dog. The current rabies vaccination tag shall be displayed on the dog at all times.
    • (2) An approved enclosure to confine a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog and the posting of the premises with a clearly visible warning sign at all entry points that informs both children and adults of the presence of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog on the property.
    • (3) Permanent identification of the dog, such as a tattoo on the inside thigh or electronic implantation.
    • (4) Landlord's written acknowledgment that a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog will be housed on property owned by landlord.
    • (5) Completion of the county's responsible pet ownership class.
  • (f) A dog classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous must be permanently sterilized within fourteen (14) calendar days following such classification by the division manager, or in the event of a timely appeal of such classification, within fourteen (14) calendar days following affirmation of the dangerous or potentially dangerous dog classification by the classification committee or within fourteen (14) calendar days of the classification as a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog being upheld by a county court.
  • (g) No dog impounded pursuant to a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog investigation or classification shall be released to its owner or keeper until all requirements in subsections 5-32(e) and (f) are met.
  • (h) The owner shall notify the animal services division within twenty-four (24) hours when a dog that has been classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous:
    • (1) Is loose or unconfined;
    • (2) Has bitten a human being or attacked another animal;
    • (3) Is sold, or given away, or dies; or
    • (4) Is moved to another address.
Prior to a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog being sold or given away, the owner shall provide the name, address and telephone number of the new owner to the animal services division. The new owner must comply with all of the requirements of this article and F.S. §§ 767.10 through 767.15, even if the dog is moved from one (1) local jurisdiction to another within the state. An animal control authority must be notified by the owner of a dog classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous that the dog is in its jurisdiction.
  • (i) It is a violation for the owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be outside an approved enclosure unless the dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash, not to exceed four (4) feet in length, and under the control of a competent adult. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal. When being transported, such dogs shall be safely and securely restrained within a vehicle.
  • (j) This section does not apply to dogs used by law enforcement officials for law enforcement work.
  • (k) It is a violation of this article for the owner of a potentially dangerous dog to allow the potentially dangerous dog to be off leash when not kept inside the owner's residence or within a securely fenced area. It is a violation for the owner of a potentially dangerous dog to allow the dog to be left alone and unsupervised outside the owner's residence. When being transported, such dogs shall be safely and securely restrained within a vehicle, using an approved tether system.
  • (l) Owners of previously declared dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs shall have sixty (60) calendar days from the adoption of this article to comply with all requirements for the registration of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog as stated in subsection 5-21(d). Failure to comply within sixty (60) days will result in the issuance of a Category I violation, pursuant to section 5-50. In addition, the dangerous or potentially dangerous dog shall be impounded and held for ten (10) calendar days after the owner is given written notification under section 5-32, and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner. This ten-day time period shall allow the owner to request a hearing under section 5-32. 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 any appeal procedure.
  • (m) The victim of any dog bite or attack may appeal the decision of the division or the classification committee if the dog is not declared dangerous.
  • (n) If any dog is not declared dangerous or potentially dangerous or if the classification determined by the division manager is not upheld in further appeal procedures, the dog will be released to the custody of the owner. In such event, the owner shall not be liable for costs of impoundment of the dog and the quarantine fees.
  • (o) The division manager may issue notice of propensity letters to owners of dogs, subsequent to an initial bite or documented aggressive behavior toward a person or domestic animal.
(Code 1965, § 3-9; Ord. No. 87-9, § 9, 3-9-87; Ord. No. 91-8, § 8, 4-2-91; Ord. No. 95-32, § 5, 9-26-95; Ord. No. 2002-04, § 4, 6-4-02; Ord. No. 2005-07, § 5, 7-12-05)

Sec. 5-32.1. Attack or bite by dangerous dog; penalties; confiscation; destruction.
  • (a) If a dog that has previously been declared dangerous under this article attacks or bites a person or domestic animal without provocation, the owner of the dog, upon conviction, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in F.S. § 775.082 or F.S. § 775.083. In addition, the dangerous dog shall be confiscated by the animal services division, placed in quarantine, if necessary, for the proper length of time, or impounded and held for ten (10) calendar days after the owner is given written notification under section 5-32, and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner. This ten-day time period shall allow the owner to request a hearing under section 5-32. 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 any appeal procedure.
  • (b) Pursuant to F.S. § 767.13, if a dog that has been previously declared dangerous under this article aggressively attacks and causes severe injury to or death of any person or domestic animal, the owner of the dog, upon conviction, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in F.S. § 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084. In addition, the dog shall be immediately confiscated by the animal services division, placed in quarantine, if necessary, for the proper length of time or held for ten (10) calendar days after the owner is given written notification under section 5-32, and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner. This ten-day time period shall allow the owner to request a hearing under section 5-32. The owner shall be responsible for payment of all boarding costs and such other fees as may be required to humanely and safely keep the dog during any appeal procedure.
  • (c) Pursuant to F.S. § 767.13, if a dog that has not been declared dangerous under this article attacks and causes severe injury to or death of any human, the dog shall be immediately confiscated by the animal services division, placed in quarantine, if necessary, for the proper length of time or held for ten (10) calendar days after the owner has been given written notification under section 5-32, and thereafter shall be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner. This ten-day time period shall allow the owner to request a hearing under section 5-32. The owner shall be responsible for payment of all boarding costs and any other fees as may be required to humanely and safely keep the dog during any appeal procedure. In addition if the owner of the dog had prior knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities, yet demonstrated a reckless disregard for such propensities under the circumstances, the owner of the dog is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in F.S. § 775.082 or 775.083.
(Ord. No. 2005-07, § 6, 7-12-05)