Lack of Insurance Muzzles ‘Dangerous Dog’ Ordinance

June 27, 2005

A Hollywood, Fla. ordinance requiring owners of “dangerous dogs” to obtain $100,000 insurance policies to cover damage caused by the animals has been repealed by the city commission because it was impossible to find insurance companies to write the policies.

Clay Milan, Hollywood code enforcement director told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel that the ordinance was unenforceable and created a burden on residents. In 1998, Broward County repealed a similar ordinance for the same reason.

The ordinance defined dangerous dogs as having an “aggressive nature, training or characteristic behavior” that would be dangerous to humans, property or other animals if not kept under the direct control of its owner. Animal control officers determined if a dog was dangerous based on direct observation or a sworn, written complaint from a citizen.

Milan said his department intends to provide better animal control by strengthening rules on what constitutes pet neglect and prohibiting owners from tying up their pets during the day.

The new provision on animal care says pet owners must provide clean, safe and humane conditions; sufficient food and water; and veterinary care when the animal is sick or injured. It also says owners must provide shelter for their animals, including protection from rain and wind, clean bedding and proper ventilation. No animals can be tethered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The city commission tentatively passed the new rules at its June 1 meeting and will need to vote on them again at a future meeting before they take effect.

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