What you need to know about Florida's breed limitations if you want to retain your dogs lawfully.
TAMPA, FLORIDA — If you're moving to Florida with your pets, you'll need to know the legal requirements for maintaining a pet as well as the state's health regulations. Fortunately, Florida provides some safeguards for some animal owners, so you won't have to worry about losing your pet once you relocate.
You'll want to check your county's website for pet license rules once you've arrived in Florida with your four-legged pals. In Florida, all dogs and cats over the age of four months must have a license, however the details of that licensing can vary.
Some counties charge you differently depending on whether or not your dog is spayed, but in Pinellas County, it's just a flat amount of $20 for one year or $40 for three years. That license's renewal date will coincide with your pet's rabies vaccination expiration date. Florida law requires that all of your pets, including ferrets, have current rabies vaccines.
Licenses are simple, and you'll be reminded when it's time to renew them. However, there is one crucial aspect of having dogs, and that is housing.
You're in luck if you reside in the Tampa Bay area, because pets are well accepted and lead very sociable lifestyles. However, you'll run upon housing that either doesn't accept pets or has a list of breeds that aren't allowed.
Some apartments may consider your dog to be a restricted breed and refuse to let it live there. You should check the rules and regulations of the complex before moving in.
Emotional support animals, who have different privileges than the usual pet, may be allowed exemption to breed restrictions. Dogs and cats aren't the only ones who benefit from ESAs. As emotional support animals, you can have small birds, rabbits, rats, fish, and even turtles.
You'll also be able to keep them in non-pet-friendly dwellings. Landlords cannot set any breed or weight limits on an ESA, according to state and federal legislation.
It's critical, though, that your ESA be approved through the correct processes. You must receive a letter from a registered health care practitioner certifying your need for an ESA to live with you in your home, according to both Florida law and the Fair Housing Act.
You cannot obtain a certificate, registration, or even a card stating that they are an ESA. These will not work if you find them online. You can, however, speak with a health care provider online and have a letter emailed to you for submission.
If you prefer, you can counsel someone in person, but if you need a letter urgently or are unable to do so, going online may be your best option.
If you've been accepted for an Emotional Support Animal, you now have certain rights, which you should be aware of. It's possible that your landlord won't tell you.
Let's talk about money for a moment. Typically, you will be required to pay a pet deposit of a few hundred dollars, as well as monthly pet rent, when you move into a new property. Those expenses might pile up quickly.
With an ESA, however, this is not the case. Pet-related costs, including the initial pet deposit, are forbidden from being charged for an ESA by housing providers. Make sure you speak up about it because if you've already paid the deposit and your animal qualifies as an ESA, you may be able to receive your money back.
Housing providers are not authorized to ask for sensitive facts about your health condition or compel your healthcare practitioner to utilize a specific form when writing the letter you'll send to your landlord.
Furthermore, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to refuse a reasonable accommodation that a person with a handicap requires in order to enjoy their home equally. Only if your animal provides a direct harm to the health and safety of others, or if your animal offers a direct threat of property damage, can a housing provider deny your request for an ESA.
If your ESA damages the property, you'll be responsible for the costs, which are normally deducted from the security deposit you paid when you moved in.
When it comes to prohibited breeds, the list can vary, but canines like Chow Chows, Pit Bulls, and German Shepherds are frequently seen on the list.
However, some activists in Florida disagree, and there was a potential that breed limitations could be lifted earlier this year.
A bill made its way through the Florida Senate a few months ago, stating that dog aggression should not be based on breed, but rather on behavior.
Pit bull breeds are prohibited in Miami-Dade County, and some owners have expressed dissatisfaction with the classification of an entire breed as dangerous.
The law cleared the Senate, giving dog owners some hope, but it was defeated in the House in March.
It's uncertain whether new legislation will be introduced to counteract the labeling of dangerous breeds, but for the time being, owners will have to live with the bans and restrictions.