On October 1, 2023, House Bill 941 went into effect in Florida and prohibited any governmental public housing authorities in the state from banning dogs based on their breed, size, or weight. This law changed the ability of local governments to implement bans on specific dog breeds. Predictably, there are mixed feelings about this law across the state, with many celebrating the new law and others calling for stricter breed bans.
What Does HB 941 Change?
Across the country, including here in Florida, various private and public entities have been able to ban dogs based on their size, weight, or breed. Local governments have also been allowed to institute breed bans on particular dogs inside Florida.
Restrictions on Ordinances and Policies. The bill specifies that any additional local regulations or requirements on dog owners, particularly those whose dogs have bitten or attacked people or other domestic animals, must not be specific to a dog’s breed, weight, or size. It also stipulates that these additional regulations must not lessen the provisions already outlined in the act.
Removal of Previous Exemptions. An important change introduced by HB 941 is the removal of an exemption for local breed-specific ordinances that were adopted before October 1, 1990. This suggests that moving forward, no breed-specific local ordinances would be exempted from the stipulations of this act.
What People Think of the New Law
Even though dog breed bands encompass many types of potentially dangerous dogs, the media focus has circled around pit bulls in particular. Pitbulls and pitbull mixes have been responsible for much of the negative media coverage of dogs throughout the country and have been the focus of many dog ban breeds in Florida and throughout the US.
In 1989, Melissa Moreira was seven years old when she was attacked by a neighbor’s pit bull. She had to undergo major facial reconstructive surgery. Shortly after, Miami-Dade County, where Melissa lived, banned all pit bulls. This ban has been the subject of controversy ever since.
Advocates for HB 941 say that this ban and all others that have occurred throughout Florida since against particular dog breeds are unfair, and they say the new law creates a sense of equity amongst dog breeds.
Others, though, argue for more strict dog breed bans in Florida, and they point out the prevalence of major dog attacks occurring with particular breeds. Individuals who advocated against this new law have said that local governments and individual entities should have the ability to ban certain breeds.
When Dogs Bite
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in St. Petersburg by a dog, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled dog bite lawyer can examine the facts of your case and help you move forward toward recovering the compensation you need. Dog bite victims are often able to recover compensation from an insurance policy of the dog’s owner, but Florida’s dog bite laws can be confusing to understand. An attorney can walk you through this entire process.