2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Local animal control or cruelty ordinances; penalty.
Local animal control or cruelty ordinances; penalty.
828.27 Local animal control or cruelty ordinances; penalty.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Animal” means any living dumb creature.
(b) “Animal control officer” means any person employed or appointed by a county or municipality who is authorized to investigate, on public or private property, civil infractions relating to animal control or cruelty and to issue citations as provided in this section. An animal control officer is not authorized to bear arms or make arrests; however, such officer may carry a device to chemically subdue and tranquilize an animal, provided that such officer has successfully completed a minimum of 16 hours of training in marksmanship, equipment handling, safety and animal care, and can demonstrate proficiency in chemical immobilization of animals in accordance with guidelines prescribed in the Chemical Immobilization Operational Guide of the American Humane Association.
(c) “Control” means the regulation of the possession, ownership, care, and custody of animals.
(d) “Cruelty” means any act of neglect, torture, or torment that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering of an animal.
(e) “Officer” means any law enforcement officer defined in s. 943.10 or any animal control officer.
(f) “Citation” means a written notice, issued to a person by an officer, that the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed a civil infraction in violation of a duly enacted ordinance and that the county court will hear the charge. The citation must contain:
1. The date and time of issuance.
2. The name and address of the person.
3. The date and time the civil infraction was committed.
4. The facts constituting probable cause.
5. The ordinance violated.
6. The name and authority of the officer.
7. The procedure for the person to follow in order to pay the civil penalty, to contest the citation, or to appear in court as required under subsection (6).
8. The applicable civil penalty if the person elects to contest the citation.
9. The applicable civil penalty if the person elects not to contest the citation.
10. A conspicuous statement that if the person fails to pay the civil penalty within the time allowed, or fails to appear in court to contest the citation, the person shall be deemed to have waived his or her right to contest the citation and that, in such case, judgment may be entered against the person for an amount up to the maximum civil penalty.
11. A conspicuous statement that if the person is required to appear in court as mandated by subsection (6), he or she does not have the option of paying a fine in lieu of appearing in court.
(g) “Ordinance” means any ordinance relating to the control of or cruelty to animals enacted by the governing body of a county or municipality the violation of which is a civil infraction.
(2) The governing body of a county or municipality is authorized to enact ordinances relating to animal control or cruelty, which ordinances must provide:
(a) That a violation of such an ordinance is a civil infraction.
(b) A maximum civil penalty not to exceed $500.
(c) A civil penalty of less than the maximum civil penalty if the person who has committed the civil infraction does not contest the citation.
(d) For the issuance of a citation by an officer who has probable cause to believe that a person has committed an act in violation of an ordinance.
(e) For the contesting of a citation in the county court.
(f) That, if a person fails to pay the civil penalty, fails to appear in court to contest the citation, or fails to appear in court as required by subsection (6), the court may issue an order to show cause upon the request of the governing body of the county or municipality. This order shall require such persons to appear before the court to explain why action on the citation has not been taken. If any person who is issued such order fails to appear in response to the court’s directive, that person may be held in contempt of court.
(g) Such procedures and provisions as are necessary to implement any ordinances enacted under the authority of this section.
(3) The commission of a charged infraction at a hearing authorized pursuant to this chapter must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
(4)(a)1. County-employed animal control officers must, and municipally-employed animal control officers may, successfully complete a 40-hour minimum standards training course. Such course must include, but is not limited to, training for animal cruelty investigations, search and seizure, animal handling, courtroom demeanor, and civil citations. The course curriculum must be approved by the Florida Animal Control Association. An animal control officer who successfully completes such course shall be issued a certificate indicating that he or she has received a passing grade.
2. County-employed and municipally-employed animal control officers must successfully complete the 1-hour training course developed by the Department of Children and Families pursuant to s. 39.208(5). Animal control officers must be provided with opportunities to attend the training during their normal work hours.
3. Any animal control officer who is authorized before January 1, 1990, by a county or municipality to issue citations is not required to complete the minimum standards training course.
4. In order to maintain valid certification, every 2 years each certified animal control officer must complete 4 hours of postcertification continuing education training. Such training may include, but is not limited to, training for animal cruelty investigations, search and seizure, animal handling, courtroom demeanor, and civil citations.
(b) The governing body of a county or municipality may impose and collect a surcharge of up to $5 upon each civil penalty imposed for violation of an ordinance relating to animal control or cruelty. The proceeds from such surcharges shall be used to pay the costs of training for animal control officers.
(5) Any person who willfully refuses to sign and accept a citation issued by an officer is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(6) The governing body of a county or municipality may require mandatory court appearances for certain aggravated violations of a local ordinance resulting in the unprovoked biting, attacking, or wounding of a domestic animal; violations resulting in the destruction or loss of personal property; second or subsequent violations of local animal cruelty laws; or violations resulting in the issuance of a third or subsequent citation to a person. The citation must clearly inform the person of the mandatory court appearance. The governing body of the county or municipality shall maintain records to prove the number of citations issued to the person. Persons required to appear in court do not have the option of paying the fine instead of appearing in court.
(7) Nothing contained in this section shall prevent any county or municipality from enacting any ordinance relating to animal control or cruelty which is identical to the provisions of this chapter or any other state law, except as to penalty. However, no county or municipal ordinance relating to animal control or cruelty shall conflict with the provisions of this chapter or any other state law. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, the governing body of any county or municipality is authorized to enact ordinances prohibiting or regulating noise from any domesticated animal, violation of which shall be punishable upon conviction by a fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 60 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment, for each violation of such ordinance. This subsection shall not apply to animals on land zoned for agricultural purposes.
(8) This section is an additional, supplemental, and alternative means of enforcing county or municipal codes or ordinances. This section does not prohibit a county or municipality from enforcing its codes or ordinances by any other means, including, but not limited to, the procedures provided in chapter 162.
History.—s. 1, ch. 86-96; s. 1, ch. 89-108; s. 43, ch. 91-110; s. 204, ch. 91-224; s. 2, ch. 91-228; s. 6, ch. 94-339; s. 1289, ch. 97-102; s. 103, ch. 99-3; s. 36, ch. 2000-308; s. 3, ch. 2013-245; s. 24, ch. 2015-3; s. 5, ch. 2015-18; s. 28, ch. 2021-170.