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Are Pit Bulls Illegal in Florida? The Surprising Facts

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

A brown American Pitbull standing on the road

You may have heard that the Pit Bull breed is banned in Florida, but is there any truth to that statement? The answer may be complicated since only one Florida county has completely prohibited Pit Bull ownership.1Meanwhile, other counties have strict regulations around owning this dog breed.

If you’re a Floridian interested in owning a Pit Bull, it’s crucial to read up on your local laws and regulations surrounding the ownership of dangerous dog breeds.

Keep reading to learn more about the legal status of Pit Bulls in Florida.

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Are Pit Bulls Illegal in Florida?

Pit Bulls are not illegal in all of Florida. However, the state’s Miami-Dade county has banned Pit Bulls, alongside other similar breeds, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier.

Other than that, counties, like Broward, have placed strict regulations around owning a Pit Bull. Section 767.14 of the Florida Status Section states that this act does not limit the local government from further restricting the ownership of dangerous dogs as long as the regulations are not specific to breed.2

Pit Bull Ban in Miami-Dade

pitbull wearing dog collar
Image Credit: Lunja, Shutterstock

Miami-Dade is the only Florida county that has banned the ownership of Pit Bulls, as stated in Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17 of the county ordinance. The ordinance was initially implemented in the 80s but stayed in place when voters favored it in 2012.

According to this ordinance, the dog must conform to the American Kennel Club’s standards to be considered a Pit Bull. The regulation also classified both pure and mixed-breed Pit Bulls as dangerous.

The local government made acquiring a new Pit Bull in Miami-Dade illegal on 1st January 1990. Pet owners who fail to register, insure, confine, and muzzle their Pit Bull would be violating the law and may receive a severe penalty.

Acquiring New Pit Bulls in Miami-Dade

The ordinance states that acquiring new Pit Bulls in Miami-Dade, Florida is illegal. This means pet owners with Pit Bulls born or bred in this county before the ordinance must receive a hefty penalty if they don’t follow strict regulations. That includes:

  • Securing their Pit Bull strictly indoors or in an enclosed pen at all times. Outdoor enclosures must have 6-foot-high walls or a top closure with a sign stating the presence of a dangerous dog.
  • Keeping the Pit Bull muzzled and leashed when it’s not confined in its pen.
  • Registering their Pit Bull with Miami-Dade’s Animal Services Division of the County Public Works Department and providing the required paperwork and information.

The ordinance also states that Miami-Dade residents are allowed to anonymously report a Pit Bull to local authorities or animal control services.

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Pit Bull Regulations in Broward

pitbull walking with his owner
Image Credit: William Perugini, Shutterstock

While it’s not illegal to own a Pit Bull in Broward, the county does have some strict regulations for the owners to follow. However, their ordinance does not explicitly call out Pit Bulls and focuses on a broader set of dangerous dogs.

Section 4-2 of the Broward County, Florida Code of Ordinances states that owners must register and license their Pit Bulls. The section also states that:

  • The owners must implant a division-approved electronic animal identification microchip in their dog and sterilize it unless it could harm its health.
  • The dog must remain in a secure enclosure with display signs stating that a dangerous dog is present on the property. The sign must be visible from a public highway or street.
  • The owner must allow local authorities to visit their property for inspection with/without notice.
  • The owner must allow a credentialed animal behavior specialist to evaluate the dog and ensure it conforms to its standard conditions.
  • The owner must cover all veterinary expenses and disposal costs if their dog attacks another dog, animal, or human.
  • Dog owners must ensure special care while transporting their dogs.
  • The dog owner and surrounding locals must notify the authorities if the dog escapes or gets loose.
  • The previous owner must provide details of the new owner to the authorities before selling or giving away their dog.

Of course, the list of regulations doesn’t end here, but it’s clear that owning a Pit Bull in Broward county requires a lot of paperwork, caution, and responsibility. When the dog is outdoors, owners must maintain complete control of their dog by a leash, muzzle, or other confinement.

Specifications of a “Dangerous Dog”

A dog is considered “dangerous” according to Florida law if it has:
  • Killed or directly caused the death of another domestic animal while away from its owner’s property, unprovoked.
  • Been involved in two or more incidents surrounding the severe injury of another domestic animal.
  • Menacingly approached or attempted to attack a person on sidewalks, parks, or public streets, unprovoked.
  • Aggressively endangered, attacked, or bitten on a human on public or private property, resulting in a severe personal injury.
  • Been trained or used for dog fighting.

Still, it’s worth noting that your Pit Bull does not need to be classified as a “dangerous dog” for concerned residents to pursue a claim for a dog bite injury. In the case of such an injury, Florida state law considers the dog and its owner responsible for the damage.

That means you must completely control your dog with the help of fencing, leashes, or muzzles. Victims of dog bites must provide proof of the dog bite, but there’s no need for the dog to have any history of aggressive behavior to be held accountable. Even if this is your dog’s first time biting a human, the victim can still pursue a case against you.

Pit Bull Legislation and Liability in Florida

According to Florida state law, dog owners are responsible for all damage and injuries caused by their dogs. If your dog injures an animal or human unprovoked, it will be sent to a dog pound, and you may be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.

Legislation in Florida does not mainly target Pit Bulls, but the public generally mistrusts Pit Bulls and considers them a dangerous breed due to their representation by the media.

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Owning a Pit Bull in Florida is not illegal unless you live in Miami-Dade county. This is the only county in the state where acquiring a new Pit Bull is unlawful, while other countries have strict guidelines for owning a dangerous dog. Pet owners must abide by such guidelines to avoid a case of action and having their dog impounded.

Featured Image Credit: KruBeer Photo, Shutterstock

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