Sunday, December 23, 2007

German shepherd loses on appeal in dangerous dog hearing

Here's a story from the Daytona Beach News Journal Online regarding the appeal of a dangerous dog determination. From the story's description, there was conflicting testimony over what Charlie the German Shepherd did to earn the dangerous dog classification. While he apparently didn't bite anyone, he may have knocked someone to the ground through either aggressive behavior or playful exuberance.

Regardless of the facts, the story demonstrates some of the procedural aspects of how dangerous dog determinations are made by local government. According to the story, a code enforcement made the initial determination regarding Charlie and found he should be classified as a dangerous dog pursuant to section 767, Florida Statutes.

The recourse from that determination was an appeal to the city commission, where an otherwise legislative body essentially takes on the role of judge. As the article notes, "because the appeal was part of a quasi-judicial hearing [the city commission] had to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to uphold code enforcement's ruling or whether it should be reversed. In a quasi-judicial hearing, the commission steps out of its policy making role and into a judicial role."

Now that Charlie has lost his appeal, the story indicates that the family has two weeks to certify Charlie's rabies vaccine is current, that he is identified with a tattoo or electronic implant, is sterilized, and can respond financially to up to $50,000 in injuries. Once that's been shown, the family must get a $250 yearly-renewable certificate of registration with animal control. Failure to comply may result in euthanization.

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