Orange Co Animal Services Wrongly Says State Law Requires the Killing of Biting Dogs

Rufus, a 1 one year old Beagle in Orange Co, FL was surrendered by his owner to AC after he bit a kid in the face.  The owner, Nicole West, was reportedly filling the dog’s food bowl when her 4 year old son came up behind the dog and accidentally startled him.  Rufus bit the kid’s lip and sutures were required.

West says she was told the beagle would be “tested for aggression,” and if he was found not to be aggressive, Rufus would be put up for adoption. But last week, West learned that her former pet was scheduled to be euthanized because of the severity of the bite.

The West family never believed there was any chance that Rufus would be killed and when they learned otherwise, they retained a lawyer to fight for his right to live.  The attorney has filed an injunction to stop the killing temporarily and the family has utilized social media to spread awareness of the dog’s plight.  Not only is the local news following the story now, but the mayor is involved as well.  She has issued a statement saying that the dog will be well cared for by the pound while the legal case proceeds.

One of the most troubling aspects to this case is the pound’s position that Rufus must be killed because FL state law says so:

Orange County Animal Services has gone on record, saying because of the severity of the injury, state statute says they must euthanize Rufus even if the dog is not found to be aggressive.

Read the FL statutes about dogs who bite for yourself.  I am not a lawyer but what I see is an outline for a legal process to determine whether a dog is dangerous after his first bite.  I see nothing that indicates the pound is required to kill any dog after his first bite, regardless of the severity.

The pound’s position makes me concerned not only for Rufus but for all the other dogs who may have bitten a person or animal in Orange Co.  How long has the pound been misrepresenting the law with regard to killing dogs who bite?  How many dogs have they killed already and how many are they going to kill under this false representation that the state law requires it?  Many dogs don’t have an owner with an attorney to protect them from Orange Co Animal Services.  Is the mayor concerned about that?

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links about Rufus.)

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18 Comments

  1. I’m not grokking this.

    The family was *forced* to relinquish the dog to animal control?

    But they never come out and say this.

    In what universe do the authorities *force* you to give them your dog, and then say that it will be adopted out?

    Erm, no.

    Why did the owners give the dog to animal control?

    Reply
    • I don’t think there is any contention they were forced. It sounds to me as if they believed that surrendering the dog was the right course of action after AC showed up at their house.

      On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:15 AM, YesBiscuit!

      Reply
      • But it makes no sense! “This dog that you own is too dangerous for you to keep, so we will take him and give him to someone else.”

      • Just having a guess, I am thinking that AC showed up after the mom got home from having the kid’s lip stitched up at the ER. The mom was probably out of sorts and when AC told her what sounded like a reasonable solution – i.e. We’ll take this dog who just bit your kid in the face off your hands and do a behavioral test on him and then adopt him out – the mom may have thought that sounded like an acceptable idea. They may have presented it to her as if she did not have the right to keep the dog, I don’t know. But judging by their failure to represent the rest of the law accurately, who knows what was said.

        On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:47 AM, YesBiscuit!

      • Oops. I posted replies to the ones with more info below. I have been following this story very closely as its local to me.

  2. A somewhat similar case is playing out in NYC where the Department of Health is refusing to release a dog (“Brooklyn”) despite a favorable hearing with a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice. Brooklyn has been kept on DOH hold for over a year.

    The NY Daily News headline is not 100% accurate (Brooklyn’s release to a Lexus Project guardian and then to a rescue is still being contested) but the key quotes are assumed to be valid: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/dog-bit-girl-released-pound-article-1.1326873

    Reply
  3. The hospital who saw the child reported the bite. AC then showed up to the house. The mother states she was in shock and didn’t fully realize what was going on. She thought it was normal protocol. Most people assume they can trust their local shelter. (I did until a few years ago–when I learned of no kill).

    Animal services=family services. The boy wants his dog to live.

    I think the mom thought that surrender was required. They are going thru a lot of effort just to make sure the dog isn’t killed.

    Ive been trying to offer any assistance I may be able to provide. I’ve worked in veterinary medicine for 14 years.

    Reply
  4. Thank you for posting this Shirley!!!! I’m ready to picket OCAS.

    Reply
  5. pam ferber

     /  April 25, 2013

    Save rufus

    Reply
  6. Arlene

     /  April 25, 2013

    There is a petition for little Rufus. Go here to sign. This little guy deserves to live; he’s only 1 and has his whole life ahead of him with his family.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/orange-county-florida-save-rufus

    Reply
  7. I vividly remember several years ago when a senior lab mix bit my hand which was in the way as she reacted to another dog passing her kennel while she ate. In the ER, I was honest about the bite but terrified AC would take this adoptable, rescue dog. They were contacted (I was later advised by a trainer I should have lied about the bite) and visited me in the ER. There was no threat to take this dog from me. They (police acting as our AC) were understanding. I’m distressed about Rufus and how his family sounds manipulated when it wasn’t necessary.

    Reply
  8. ezbuddy

     /  May 2, 2013

    When city or county “shelters” get involved, dogs die. Cats die. Hearts are broken. Promises are broken. No one wins except the sadist in control.

    Isn’t it time to change the control of these city/county “shelters” to sensible compassionate people who really care?

    Reply
  9. Tonya

     /  May 6, 2013

    Any updates on this?

    Reply
    • db

       /  May 10, 2013

      That’s certainly good news!

      Reply
    • Apparently the county doesn’t have the political will to take their THIS BEAGLE MUST DIE fight to court. Thank goodness for spineless cowards.

      Reply

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