FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Broward commissioners decided Tuesday that the county’s zero tolerance law for dangerous dogs should be tempered with a little mercy.

Commissioners voted to amend the current law to allow dogs in the county a two bite policy before mandatory euthanization.

Proposed by Commissioner Chip LaMarca the modified law requires that dogs who kill would be given a second chance it their owners agree to abide by a number of conditions including keeping them muzzled and leashed at all times off their property and having the dog implanted with a microchip. Owners could be fined up to $500 for each violation.

There is an exception in the modified law; dogs that hurt kids would be subject to euthanasia on their first offense.

The new law would be very similar to the one they had up until 2008 when they cracked down on so-called dangerous dogs.

Last month the city settled with two owners who sued after their pooches were sentenced to doggie death row.

“They didn’t apply the law the right way. It wasn’t a case by case basis. That’s why it needed to be changed,” said Lon Lipsky.

Lipsky was walking his husky Brandie on a leash last May when she bit an unleashed teacup poodle and killed the dog. Under the county’s one bite law, Brandie was ordered to be put down.

But Lipsky and his family fought back. They moved Brandie to a vet office which cost them $7,000 for 6 months and filed a lawsuit against the county.

“There needs to be accountability on the owner’s part that has the dangerous dog but there must also be accountability where you put a dog in a situation where it feels provoked and in this case I think the commission got it right,” said Lipsky.

Weston resident Tom Austin also sued the county for the return of his dog, Gigi, a Labrador, who was on a leash when she bit a leashed Yorkie in her family’s neighborhood.

Austin also sued the county, saying the law was unconstitutional. He said Gigi simply reacted by biting the Yorkie. Austin said she’s never bitten anyone before — animal or human. He believes the county law did not adequately protect animals who are provoked.

“That doesn’t mean they’re a dangerous dog,” he said. “They do it twice there’s probably a reason to believe they’re a dangerous dog.”

County Commissioners LaMarca and John Rodstrom support the change in the law.

“You’re considered to be guilty until your day in court,” Rodstrom said. “There are ways to protect the public without putting the dog to sleep.”

In the last two years, since the tougher law was in place, 56 dogs have been put down by the county for violating the law, most were pit bulls or Rottweilers.

The Sun-Sentinel also contributed to this report.

Comments (5)
  1. Anon1 says:

    Yep, I’d say if Johnny Simms got a few second chances, why not pit bulls and Rottweilers.

  2. Fred says:

    Zero tolerance laws are just excuses for people not to make decisions. Of course a dog who is provoked should not be put down.

  3. Carol says:

    I so glad that is overturned because that is just not right because it should be decided on a case by case basis especially when the dog is provoked and if the dog is not provoked the family of the pet that attacked should pay all medical and lawyer bills no matter what and that is a fact.

  4. Louise says:

    Its just too bad that it took them so long. Dogs have been put to sleep for almost 3 years because of this ordinance.. What took them so long to amend it??

  5. Peter says:

    Let’s see Michael Vick can kill dogs–and he’s not on death row. In fact, he’s making millions as a felon killer. But if my dog…bites another..it goes down? Only in bizarre Broward County. Commissioners, try tackling the real problems facing the county.
    1) highest unemployment rate in the state. we’d love it if you would talk about jobs as fervently as you address bad dogs.

    2) homes in foreclosure. Duh…I might have to let me dangerous dog out of the yard when I l ose my home.

    3) crime. the sheriff gets big bucks and yet my home was recently robbed. Wish I would have had a dangerous dog to protect my house.

    Wake up. Even when new Commissioners are added to the mix…nothing changes. Sad.

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