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With Wildlife Ownership In Florida Comes Great Responsibility


When you hear that an animal has bitten someone, the first thing that comes to mind is a dog. While it’s true that dog bites are the most common form of animal attack, they aren’t the only animals that tangle with people. Attacks and bites can come from many sources, and some might even surprise you.

Class II Wildlife Is Permitted

Did you know that the state of Florida allows people to keep certain wildlife creatures as pets? Owners must hold a permit to possess, sell, or exhibit animals in the category of Class II Wildlife, and they can keep them at their home.

Some examples of Class II Wildlife include:

• Venomous reptiles (Copperhead, Coral snake, Rattlesnake, etc.)
• Alligators
• Bobcats
• Badgers (Honey, American, etc.)
• Monkeys (Proboscis, Howler, etc.)
• Wolves
• Coyotes
• Wild cattle (antelope and similar species)
• Apes (Macaques, Celebes)
• Wild cats such as the Lynx (European, Canadian), Ocelot, Serval

Owners of Class II Wildlife must have substantial experience with these animals, and they must meet specific requirements:

• Wildlife cannot be kept in unsanitary conditions, or in a manner that puts public safety at risk.
• Wildlife must be kept in a cage or enclosure when not under direct supervision. (Owners must meet strict caging requirements to keep the animal from escaping.)
• Owners cannot give wildlife to anyone who does not hold a permit or meet the specific requirements.

Class I Wildlife Is Not Permitted

Class I Wildlife are those that pose a great danger to people. People are prohibited from owning these animals unless they were purchased prior to August 1, 1980, or before August 27, 2009 for cougars, panthers, and cheetahs. A small sample of Class I Wildlife include:

• Bears
• Crocodiles
• Elephants
• Gorillas and Orangutans
• Hippopotamuses and Rhinoceros
• Jaguars and Leopards
• Lions
• Tigers

Even Domesticated Animals Can Attack

Although rules are set in place to protect both the owners and others, not everyone is as careful as they should be. Some people believe that they have been able to domesticate these animals enough to let them roam free on the premises. Unfortunately, even a domesticated animal can go back to their wild roots if they feel threatened or frightened. Sometimes, wild animals can attack for what seems like no reason, entirely unprovoked. An attack from a wild animal can be more than painful; it can cause loss of limbs and even loss of life.

Owners Can Be Held Liable

Attacks can happen to family and friends. They can also happen to someone who lawfully enters a residence to conduct business. If anyone is attacked by a wild animal while lawfully in a residence, the homeowner can be held liable for damages. Building owners and condominium associations can also be held liable in a wild animal attack.

Property owners in Florida have responsibilities to use due care to keep others safe. If safety was compromised, causing you to be attacked and injured by someone else’s “pet,” you have a right to be compensated for your losses. Losses can include, but are not limited to:

• Hospital and specialist bills
• Medications and therapies
• Lost wages from work
• Pain and suffering

A lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims can help you take the next steps. Contact someone who will fight for your rights when animals attack.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

With Wildlife Ownership In Florida Comes Great Responsibility

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh




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