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Lawmakers Propose Penalties for Leaving Cats and Dogs Unattended

National Humane Society

A bill in a Tallahassee house committee would increase penalties for leaving dogs tethered and unattended in Florida. 

It’s a bill partly inspired by the tragic death of a Duval County child, Dylan Andres, who was killed in 2012 by a dog that had been left chained up and unattended. 

The boy’s death inspired a bill several years ago that was passed by Jacksonville’s City Council that fines people who leave dogs tethered and out of sight. Now, a statewide-version of the bill is making its way through the committee process in Tallahassee. 

“In the last 10 years there in Florida, there have been actually 40 very serious chained dog attacks,” said Jennifer Kanady, the director of the anti-chaining division of the Anti-Dogfighting Campaign. “Four of those were fatal, and all four of them were children.”

Advocates say the bill would also help prevent people from leaving dogs and cats behind during hurricanes and other extreme weather events. 

A statehouse analysis of a version of the bill filed in 2019 found that in Palm Beach County, 49 dogs and two cats were rescued by animal control officers during 2017’s Hurricane Irma. 

The bill would impose a $250 fine for the first offense, and a $500 fine for subsequent offenses. It would not prevent offenders from owning pets. 

Contact Sydney Boles at, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.