Watch CBS News

Florida to "destroy" dangerous dogs; force owners to register their canines and pay more for insurance under new bill

CBS News Live
CBS News Miami Live
Barking dog
Barking enraged shepherd dog outdoors. Blurred effect is made for reason. Getty Images/iStockphoto

MIAMI — A new bill is making its rounds in the Florida House, and it would make owners of "dangerous dogs" pay more in insurance and even have repeat-offending canines be "destroyed."

CS/HB 873 — the "Pam Rock Act," named after the Putnam County mail carrier who was killed in 2022 after being attacked by a pack of dogs while on the job — is moving forward in Tallahassee after it was approved by a Florida House committee last week, according to a report by Newsweek.

While there are several rules about dog attacks at the local level, such as in Miami-Dade County, this statewide bill would force owners of dangerous dogs to register their pets with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) and strengthen penalties against them — and their animals.

"The Legislature finds that dangerous dogs are an increasingly serious and widespread threat to the safety and welfare of the people of this state because of unprovoked attacks which cause injury to persons and domestic animals," the bill reads, adding that "such attacks are in part attributable to the failure of owners to confine and properly train and control their dogs."

According to the bill, existing laws "inadequately address this growing problem" and need to be changed.

Under the Pam Rock Act, a dog is considered "dangerous" if it has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered or has inflicted severe injury to a person on private or public property; if it has more than once severely injured or killed a domestic animal (including livestock) while off the owner's property; or, if it has chased or approached a person on the street, sidewalk or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack "unprovoked," Newsweek reported.

Additionally, a local committee would have to investigate dog-related incidents and officially deem a dog dangerous if it fits the bill's description.

Also under the bill, a dog owner who knows their canine's "dangerous propensities" must securely confine the dog in a proper enclosure, which might be indoors, in a locked, fenced yard or any other secured locked structure. When the dog is brought outside, the owner must also make sure that they are muzzled, according to Newsweek. If they fail to do so or are found in breach of other restrictions included in the bill, the owner would have to pay a $1,000 fine. And, the bill would also force dangerous dog owners to purchase a $100,000 dog liability insurance policy.

According to the bill, animal control authorities can also confiscate a dog inflicting severe injuries or chasing anyone passerby unprovoked, following an investigation.

Newsweek reported that legislators are also foreseeing a situation where a canine would need to be put down.

Under the Pam Rock Act, a dangerous dog who attacks or bites a person or domestic animal unprovoked would be immediately confiscated by animal control, placed in quarantine if necessary, for the proper length of time and held for 10 business days after the owner has received written notification. After the 10 days, the dog would then be "destroyed" expeditiously and humanely, and the owner would be considered guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, Newsweek reported.

According to Newsweek, the bill is now going through a judiciary committee before it moves to the Florida House floor for a final vote.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.