McBee v. Marion County Animal Control

The McBee case started a firestorm of criticism about the Marion County, Florida Ordinance. It culminated in change of the Ordinance in February 2010.  Unfortunately, as reported here, the changes got watered down in the political process.

The three McBee dogs got loose on September 20, 2009 and allegedly killed a cat. The dogs were collies, and one was a service dog.  The cat was an outside cat, and the facts were murky about whether the dogs killed the cat or the cat had already been mortally wounded prior to the attack.

The dogs were declared dangerous before the Code Enforcement Board on October 14, 2009.  Newspaper coverage of the aftermath of the hearing is here.

There was discussion about the one-kill rule and whether it was fair.  An editorial in the Star Banner questioning the Marion County Ordinance is here

Under state law, the McBee dogs would not have been declared dangerous, since state law requires two kills of a domestic animal before they can be considered dangerous.  Harmonizing the ordinance with state law was one of the issues the McBee case brought to the public's attention.

Pending the appeal, the dogs were allowed to go to her veterinarian's office, as reported here.

Based on the McBee case, changing the one kill rule in the ordinance and other measures designed to make the ordinance more dog friendly were discussed at a public hearing reported here. Creating a Dog Classification Board with members that had experience with dog behavior were discussed.

After a workshop and public hearing, the County Commissioners decided not to make the dangerous dog definition consistent with state law, as reported here. A dangerous dog classification board was created, but it contained the same members of the code Enforcement Board.  I can tell you after being in front of both, nothing has changed.

Everyone who hoped that the McBee case would result in major change was disappointed, as reported here.

One change in the new law that is significant, is that on appeal from the Dangerous Dog Classification Board, the dog owner gets a de novo hearing in front of a judge in county court with rules of evidence.  So the McBee case did produce a positive change that was worth the effort. 

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.