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Not dangerous after all?

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By Kellie Parkin

Following a recommendation of city attorney David Coffey, Cedar Key City Commission agreed last week to reopen a dangerous dog hearing that took place in May.

Coffey sent a letter dated July 16 to Mayor Colson and City Commissioners giving notice that the dangerous dog hearing that took place on May 19 may not have complied with Florida law.

“After further review of the record for this matter, this office is concerned that the City’s findings and conditions may not conform to state law,” the letter states. Coffey recommends that “the Commission reopen the hearing to ensure that a decision is reached that fully conforms to state law.”

At issue is the definition and process of deeming the animal a dangerous dog. “The alleged 2006 attack against another animal does not appear to meet the statutory definition of “severe injury.” In addition, “the police department was unable to find any record of a complaint having been made when the attack occurred in 2006.” The letter also says that “the more recent complaint alleging that Gal menaced a resident was not investigated because the resident’s delay in filing the complaint made such an investigation impractical.” According to Florida law, the letter concludes, Gal may not be dangerous after all.

“Based on our subsequent review of the record, it does not appear the City had sufficient documentation to designate Gal as a dangerous dog,” the letter states.

New evidence given in a re-opened hearing could still result in the dangerous dog designation, according to the letter.

Until that happens, however, “It appears from the available record that there is insufficient evidence upon which to base a determination that Gal is a ‘dangerous dog.’”