Q: Animal control showed up because r/m has been neglecting her animals. Stopped trying to help when r/m became abusive.
Was also not in a financial situation to care for them as I just gained employment on 7.19.19. I have an 11 year old child that I have struggled to feed and shelter due to finances and have been trying to get out of this unhealthy environment. Animal control said that all persons in the home could be held criminally responsible and I don't know if that is true. I read FL Statute 828.13 and I do not believe I fit the classification as of an owner. When I arrived in FL in March of this year the r/m did not have the dogs nor did she ask me if I wanted dogs. So far it is only in the investigation stages but I am considered that this could hurt my newly found employment, my ability to care for my child or risk jail time and have a criminal record. So can you please tell me how this works? The roommate is also lying to police and I have the information to prove that she is? She has threatened to commit suicide in front of myself and my child. Has verbally attacked not only myself but other.
A: I am assuming that r/m is roommate. If so the State of Florida would have to prove that you are an "Owner” which includes any owner, custodian, or other person in charge of an animal...there is an attorney general opinion at 815 So.2d 597 from 2002.
"828.13 Confinement of animals without sufficient food, water, or exercise; abandonment of animals.—
(1) As used in this section
(b) “Owner” includes any owner, custodian, or other person in charge of an animal.
(a) Impounds or confines any animal in any place and fails to supply the animal during such confinement with a sufficient quantity of good and wholesome food and water,
(b) Keeps any animals in any enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air, or
(c) Abandons to die any animal that is maimed, sick, infirm, or diseased,
is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine.
(3) Any person who is the owner or possessor, or has charge or custody, of any animal who abandons such animal to suffer injury or malnutrition or abandons any animal in a street, road, or public place without providing for the care, sustenance, protection, and shelter of such animal is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both imprisonment and a fine."
I believe you are reading it correctly and agree with Mr. Ferro. You are not necessarily an "owner or possessor" of your roommate's animals.
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