What legal action can be taken against a dog owner who's dog attacks someone or their pet?

Asked over 3 years ago - Ocala, FL

Our neighbor has several pit bulls which have escaped from their yard several times. So far, they have not attacked any people or pets, so there have been no injuries or deaths, yet. When they get loose, they run all over the neighborhood, chasing cars, etc. Who knows what they'll do if they come in contact with a person or pet. It's a dangerous situation waiting to happen. Police and animal control have done nothing, since they were not able to find them (by the time they arrived over an hour later). Also, these pit bull owners are renters. The property owner lives out of state. Does the property owner share any legal responsibility if these dogs do ultimately cause any injuries or deaths? I don't know whether they are aware or not of all these dogs their tenants have.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Daniel J. Rose

    Contributor Level 15

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should put the Property owner on notice so you can hold him liable for any injury or harm from the dogs (certified mail/fed ex), therefore if he says he didn't know when you sue you can prove you did. I would keep contacting animal control and if this is an HOA or COA contact the association.

    Legal disclaimer: This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not... more
  2. Keith G Langer

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If you have even a cell phone camera, you can document each incident of the dogs running loose that you witness. Each such incident should be reported to the police and animal control, so their logs show the frequency with which the animals are not under their owner's control.

    Complaints to the city council should follow, if the PD and AC fail to act on this continuing problem.

    The Ocala tax assessor should have the name and address for the owner of record, although complaining to an absentee landlord is not likely to produce results.

    Should something happen which requires legal representation, such as a dog bite or action against you by the dogs' owner, the state and county bar associations can assist you with referrals.

    The foregoing is for general information purposes and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
  3. Joan M Bundy

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . This is definitely trouble in the making. Do as my colleagues advise and document, document, document (visual--video or at least pictures--audio and written; keep a log of dates, times and what happened). Put the landlord or property owner on notice if you can find out who it is (should be fairly easy; just check with the county recorder's or assessor's office for the address where the house is located). Also you may want to check out my response to another recent question that involved "pit bulls." Just because they are "pit bulls" doesn't necessarily make them inherently more dangerous than other dogs. What does make this situation inherently dangerous is the number of dogs, the fact that they are allowed to run free and that there appears to be little or no supervision, training or control over these animals. (Whose fault is that? The owners, of course, not the dogs.) The said reality is that eventually these dogs may get into a wild wolf-pack mentality and work together to attack and kill (hunt for prey, essentially). It's just natural instinct, but very deadly (at least potentially). Call animal control right away, and keep calling every time you see the dogs running loose until something is done or at least there is a record of what has been happening. Also, please keep you and your loved ones safe as best you can. Good luck!

    This post should not be construed as formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
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  4. Laura Mcfarland-Taylor

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Whether you can hold the property owner liable is really going to depend on the facts and the fact that you tell him the dogs are running loose may not be enough. In addition, the landlord living out of state further complicates matters.

    I agree with my colleague that you need to document each and every time the dogs are loose (photos and written log), follow up with animal control and/or the police, and follow up with the city as well.

    If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.

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