Today's tip: Dog bites can be a big problem, especially if you don't want a lawsuit on your hands! Click the link to learn what you can do about it.
"It wouldn't occur to us to sue our neighbors over some minor injury. Now, things have changed," said animal law expert Mina Morgan.
Not all dog attacks are minor. Some end up with severe injuries or even death. Dog attacks cost Florida pet owners more than $ 7 million a year, and they could even lead to jail time.
Morgan says the laws in Florida typically work against dog owners. In many states, dog owners are only liable if they know their dog is dangerous. That's not the case in Florida.
"Even if you have no idea your dog might behave dangerously, if your dog bites someone, you're going to be liable," Morgan said.
Hillsborough County regularly holds an "animal court," where a judge reviews cases and determines whether dog owners should receive penalties for negligence.
Recently, Roxanne Carlo of Lutz claimed her dog was chased and attacked by a dog owned by her neighbor, Dinah Bishop. Carlo said the dog attack caused her to fall and break her wrist. She asked the judge to fine Oliver's owner.
"This is a vicious dog. There is a problem. This could happen again," Carlo said, in court.
Bishop argued her dog was not aggressively chasing Carlo's dog, and no actual bite took place. But the judge ruled against her. She was given a $ 500 fine and ordered to have her dog microchipped and receive training.
Perhaps more importantly, her dog was
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