Town of Zolfo Springs, FL
Hardee County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 6-13-2005 by Ord. No. 2005-05]
[Amended 3-26-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-02]
A. 
Intent. It is the intent of the Town Commission to adopt the provisions of Chapter 767, Part II, for Classification of Dogs as Dangerous. If any conflicts exist between this article and Part II of F.S. Chapter 767, Part II of F.S. Chapter 767 shall be followed.
B. 
If the Town receives information tending to indicate that the actions of a dog meet the definition of a "dangerous dog" under F.S. § 767.11, a Town code enforcement officer shall act as the Animal Control Officer pursuant to F.S. § 767.11(6). The Animal Control Officer shall investigate actions of the dog pursuant to F.S. 767.12(1), including interviewing the dog owner(s), if possible, and obtaining sworn affidavits from any person desiring to have a dog classified as dangerous. If, after investigation, the Animal Control Officer has determined that there is sufficient cause to preliminarily classify a dog as a "dangerous dog," said officer shall complete a duly sworn affidavit stating the supporting facts and circumstances, dates and times of any supporting incidences, and references to F.S. § 767.12.
C. 
The Town shall then send to the dog owner a notice of that preliminary classification as provided in Exhibit A (amended),[1] said notice providing:
(1) 
Notice of the preliminary classification of the owner's dog as "dangerous" and a statement of the requirements if the dog remains classified as "dangerous";
(2) 
That the owner must request a hearing, in writing, within seven days or the preliminary classification becomes permanent.
[1]
Editor's Note: Exhibit A is included at the end of this chapter.
D. 
Service of notice on the owner shall be accomplished only by registered mail, certified hand delivery, or service in conformance with the provisions of F.S. Ch. 48 relating to service of process.
E. 
If the owner fails to request a hearing, in writing, within seven calendar days of the date of service of the notice of preliminary designation, or if the Dangerous Dog Classification Board determines that the dog shall be classified as a dangerous dog after the hearing, the Town shall then send a written final order to the owner by registered mail, certified hand delivery or service. The same service of notice procedures as described above shall be the only manner of service of the notice of preliminary classification.
F. 
In the event that the owner fails to request an appeal of the final order in accordance with the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, the dog shall then be permanently classified as a dangerous dog, and the Town shall require compliance with F.S. Ch. 767 for dogs of that classification, except that in addition to those statutory requirements and depending on the severity of the incident, the Town requires the following:
(1) 
The owner(s) shall obtain and maintain liability insurance in an amount not less than $500,000 per occurrence. All insurance policies shall be issued by responsible companies authorized to do business under the laws of the state, have an "A" policyholder's rating, have a financial rating of at least Class VIII in accordance with the most current Best's Key Rating Guide, and shall be satisfactory to the Town. In the event the insurance coverage expires, a renewal certificate shall be issued 30 days prior to the said expiration date. The Town shall be listed as a named insured for the purposes of notice prior to cancellation or expiration; and
(2) 
The owner may be fined in accordance with Florida law and Town Code.
A. 
The Town Clerk shall schedule a hearing to occur within not less than five days, nor more than 21 days, of receipt of a written request for a hearing from the owner.
B. 
The Town may enforce this article in any manner allowed by law; however, if handled administratively through the Town, the Dangerous Dog Classification Board may be, at the option of the Town Commission, the Town Commission sitting as the Dangerous Dog Classification Board, the Code Enforcement Board, or the Code Enforcement Special Magistrate, any of which may establish reasonable hearing procedures affording basic due process in addition to the procedures provided herein. If the hearing is provided through the procedures contained in F.S. Chapter 162, Parts I or II, or through F.S. § 166.0415, but not inconsistent with Part II of F.S. Chapter 767, the owner may be fined as provided therein.
[Amended 3-26-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-02]
C. 
Formal rules of evidence shall not be followed; however, basic due process shall be provided, including, at a minimum:
(1) 
All testimony shall be sworn.
(2) 
Hearsay shall be allowed, but shall not be considered if it is the sole evidence to support a proposition or point.
(3) 
The dog owner is entitled to be represented by an attorney, but an attorney is not required. If an attorney is going to represent the owner, however, the owner shall notify the Town at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing.
(4) 
The Animal Control Officer shall present the Town's case first, followed by owner's case.
(5) 
Each side may be allowed to question the other party's witnesses through submitting questions to the presiding officer.
(6) 
The presiding officer may delegate rulings concerning procedure and evidence to the Town Attorney if present at hearing.
[Amended 3-26-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-02]
If a dog is classified as a dangerous dog due to an incident that causes severe injury to a human being, based upon the nature and circumstances of the injury and the likelihood of a future threat to the public safety, health, and welfare, the dog may be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner at the expense of the owner.