Are you wondering whether the pitbull breed is illegal to own in Florida? Maybe you are looking at getting one, perhaps you already do and are soon to move to the state, or you may even just be curious to know. Either way, this is what you are going to need to be aware of.
So, are Pitbulls illegal in Florida? Pitbulls are generally not illegal in the state of Florida. However, they (along with breeds of similar characteristics including the American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier) are illegal in Miami-Dade County specifically. Strict rules and regulations of ownership are in place in other counties too, like Broward.
It is essential that if you are looking to own a pitbull in the state of Florida that you check your local laws and regulations.
They can vary quite dramatically, as we shall soon discover.
In fact, in section 767.14 of the Florida Status Section, you will find the following:
“Additional local restrictions authorized.–Nothing in this act shall limit any local government from placing further restrictions or additional requirements on owners of dangerous dogs or developing procedures and criteria for the implementation of this act, provided that no such regulation is specific to breed and that the provisions of this act are not lessened by such additional regulations or requirements”The Florida Senate
With this in mind, let us explore the counties that have bans and strict regulations in place.
What Counties In Florida Are Pitbulls Banned?
Pitbulls are only banned in one county in Florida; Miami-Date. This breed is specifically cited in Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17 as illegal to own in the state’s county ordinance.
This ordinance was first put in place in 1989 but has since been upheld (most recently in 2012 when voters decided that it should remain in place.
The ordinance, which you can access here, defines the pitbull as any dog that “substantially conforms to the standards established by the American Kennel Club”.
Here is a particularly pertinent point made in the ordinance:
“Both Pure And Mixed Breed Pit Bull Dogs Are Classified As Dangerous. It Has Been Illegal To Acquire A New Pit Bull Dog Since January 1, 1990. Failure To Register, Muzzle, Confine, And Insure A Pit Bull Is A Violation Of The Law Subject To Severe Penalty”Miami – Dade County, Florida – Code of Ordinances Chapter 5 – ANIMALS AND FOWL Sec. 5-17. – Legislative intent.
An important point to note here is that this is for “acquiring new dogs”.
Older pitbulls, born or bred in Miami Dade prior to the ordinance must follow strict regulations or be subject to a large penalty. Some of the rules set out in the ordinance as follows:
- Pitbull dogs must be securely confined indoors or in a securely and totally enclosed and locked pen at all times. Any outdoor pen must have either a top or have all all four (4) sides at least six (6) feet high. A sign must also be present stating the words: “Dangerous Dog.”
- At any time that a pitbull dog is not confined, they must be muzzled and kept on a leash,
- Every owner of a pit bull dog in Miami-Dade County must register the dog with the Animal Services Division of the Public Works Department of the County – providing important information about the owners, the dog, and where they are kept.
The ordinance also advises that any Miami resident should report a pitbull to their local animal control services or local authorities, and they can do so anonymously.
Other Counties In Florida With Regulations
Broward is the other county in Florida with strict regulations in place for owners. While pitbulls are not called out specifically, the state has enacted specific responsibilities that must be followed.
According to section 4-2 of the Broward County, Florida, Code of Ordinances, all pitbulls must be registered and licensed, and:
- The dog is implanted with a Division-approved electronic animal identification device (microchip) and sterilized (unles sterilization could otherwise hamr their health),
- The owner must keep their dogs in a sufficiently secure and defined enclosure. Display signs must also be erected on the property stating a “dangerous dog” is being kept on the premises. Signs must be easily visible.
- The owner must consent to the authorities visiting for inspection, with or without notice.
- Dogs must be evaluated by a credentialed animal behavior specialist and must conform to any conditions they identify.
- Veterinary expenses and disposal costs must be covered should the dog attack another dog, animal or human.
- Special care must be in place if the dog is transported.
- If the dog gets loose or escapes, the authorities must be notified immediately.
- If the dog is sold or given away, the details of the new owner must be given to the authorities promptly.
And there are a few more too.
As you can see, if you own a pitbull in Broward county, you are going to need to be especially mindful, cautious, and responsible at all times.
You are going to need to be in full control of your dog; whether it be by confinement or leashing.
Should your dog bite, you can be liable to a claim regardless of whether it has happened before or the circumstances.
There is no Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) on pitbulls beyond the Miami-Date County.
That being said, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed in others.
So you must absolutely check with your local authorities.
And while I am not here to debate whether the pitbull breed is a dangerous one or make any recommendations for or against ownership, I think it’s essential to state that you must consider whether you want to own a dog breed that comes with this level of controversy.
And if that is not an issue, do consider that you will need to be especially mindful, careful, and proactive.
Florida law abides by a one-bite rule. In other words, an individual can pursue damages from a dog’s owner regardless of whether or not the owner was aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
And if an individual was bitten by a breed that is generally considered “dangerous”, their chances of a claim increase dramatically.
So if you are still set on this particular breed, you’re going to really need to ensure your dog is very well-trained, socialized and you comply with any regulations thrown your way.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.