- Created on 28 March 2011
- Last Updated on 26 May 2014
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Definition of Injury for Classification of a Dog as Dangerous
A required element of proof
Almost all dangerous dog ordinances classify a dog as dangerous by actions the dog takes on the specific day in question. Thus, the general temperament of the dog, no previous biting history and affidavits by others attesting to the good nature of the dog are deemed irrelevant. It is therefore very important to scrutinze the definition of dangerous dog, to determine what kind of injury is required.
Such was the case in Olsen v. Seattle Animal Shelter. One of the issues in Olsen was whether the dog bites in question had met the threshold requirement in the ordinance. Since there was insufficient evidence to show the bites met the "severe Injury" standard set out in the ordinance, the court reversed the decision by the animal control director deserving of euthanasia. Specifically, there was no evidence that the bites resulted "in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery."
Florida State Law § 767.10 has a similar definition. Severe injury means "any physical injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites, or disfiguring lacerations requiring sutures or reconstructive surgery."
Marion County, Florida defines severe injury in their ordinance as "any physical injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites or disfiguring lacerations, sutures, or reconstructive surgery, or any physical injury that results in life threatening injuries or death." Bite is defined as "a penetration to the skin with teeth and with blood appearing in the wound."