Visitor Question

Do I have to get canine liability insurance for my service animal?

Submitted By: Kathy (Bradenton, Florida)

In the state of Florida, do I have to have canine liability insurance for my service dog just because she is a pit bull. She has no history of aggression, attacks on people or other animals.

My landlord to public housing (HUD) said I need to carry canine liability coverage due to the fact pit bulls are considered to be an aggressive breed. Does it matter that she is my service dog for my Lupus and mental disability? How do I get canine liability insurance like he’s saying? Thank you for any direction you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Kathy,

We were unable to locate any Florida statutes requiring dog owners, even those owning dogs classified as very aggressive, to have separate liability insurance for their dog.

However, Florida law is clear on dog owner liability for bites or other injuries sustained by third parties (other people) who have been bit by their dog. The statute does not discriminate between aggressive and non-aggressive dogs.

Florida law is quite strict. Florida does NOT recognize the “one-bite” rule, where a dog who has no prior history of violence is excused for his or her first bite of a third party.

Florida Statute Section 767.04 reads in part…

“The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s’ knowledge of such viciousness.”

Finally, we were unable to locate any Florida Statutes exempting persons from Section 767.04 if the dog owner has a service dog, whether with the disease of Lupus, or with mental disability.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: July 2, 2016

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