Pet count on April Goodwin court representation
Pet count on April Goodwin court representation
*This is the opinion of our guest writer*

Update: Florida attorney April Goodwin has a unique legal specialty: she is fighting for the rights of pets among humans in court and it seems that the pets think that attorney April Goodwin is the top pet attorney in Florida based on her success record.

“Although Florida law primarily treats pets as just another piece of property, for pet owners, they are treasured members of the family,” she writes on her website. That’s why Goodwin chooses to represent those without a voice in court in order to maintain their well-being. 

In Florida, pet owners also make claims in the interests of their pets, but the courts typically dismiss them. Courts believe that the animal’s interest has no bearing in a case unless it has something to do with property rights.  

In a divorce case, Bennett v. Bennett, 655 So. 2d 109 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995), though the pet was still considered a member of the family, the court declined to create a custody or visitation agreement between the parties and ordered the “award” of Roddy the dog according to equitable distribution. This was done because the dog was considered property, not a member of the family, in the eyes of the law

April Goodwin explained that courts now allow the bond between the pet owner and the pet to be considered for damages. 

Goodwin Deals With Odd Florida Laws

April Goodwin asserted based on her vast experience with animal rights that “When owners of a “dangerous dog” attempted to enjoin such a classification, this court held the dangerous dog statute was unconstitutional.  Because dogs are subjects of property and ownership, the owner’s deprivation of a dog entitles him to procedural due process.”

April Goodwin has spent six years fighting for the rights of animals in court. She specializes in “Representing pet owners whose dogs have been confiscated by animal control; stolen pets; disputes with breeders; landlord/tenant disputes due to service animals, emotional support animals, and/or pets; and more.”

Florida also has strident laws against animal abuse. Violations against this law are considered first degree misdemeanors. The law defines abuse as “unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner.”

Attorney April Goodwin also helps families and pet owners adopt exotic pets. The state of Florida makes it legal to adopt foxes, jackals, bats, deer, sloths, Asian leopard cats, marmosets, and raccoons. Goodwin charges between $2,500 and $3,000 to help owners apply for permits. 

Attorney April Goodwin animal legal rights expert
Attorney April Goodwin animal legal rights expert

How To deal with Dangerous Pets in Florida

Attorney April Goodwin also revealed that the Florida Court of Appeals had saved a dog from being killed after the dog had attacked a cat. The Broward County ordinances had originally ruled that an animal that had attacked another animal could be classified as “dangerous,” and put down. But this was overruled in 2011, making it more difficult to order the death of a domestic animal. 

Goodwin Fight For Human Injustice Also

Goodwin has fought for the rights of communities in Florida before. Town councilman Matthew McGill sought $1 million in damages from the community he represented because he believed that his freedom of speech had been taken away from him. McGill also wanted to slash the already tiny police budget in the town Howey-in-the-Hills in Lake County because he believed the small force was squandering the small fund. 

Goodwin would not let him. She and others in the town started several petitions to recall McGill from office. “We plan to continue to fight,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “The petition has to meet certain legal standards and guidelines, so we will be reviewing it.” 

April Goodwin Disagrees With Trump

Goodwin tells us that the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species List. The removal of the gray wolf from the federal list of endangered and threatened species was unsurprising to many. Federal wildlife managers touted the success story of the gray wolf and handed management of wolf populations (at 10% of their original range in the United States) to state wildlife departments. 

Goodwin thinks that this move was heralded by lawmakers and lobbyists in mainly western states with significant livestock and ranching interests in a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service press release. While many quoted in the press release praised the ability of states to better manage the predator based on individual needs and cited the progress the wolf population has made due to the ESA protections, others suggested that “everyday citizens” have been “threatened by growing unmanaged gray wolf populations” and that there was “overpopulation of the gray wolf” that led to industry losses. According to NPR, critics of the move are already threatening to sue based on the removal.

Pet count on April Goodwin court representation
Pet count on April Goodwin court representation

Florida Pet Laws

Attorney Goodwin recommends Florida pet owners to learn this set of laws which explains the powers and duties of the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services in enforcing the Animal Industry laws (Chapter 585). Any person or officer that is charged with a duty under the Animal Industry laws may be compelled to perform the same by mandamus, injunction, or other court-ordered remedies. Department employees are authorized to enter any premises in the state for the purposes of carrying out their duties under the Animal Industry laws and it is illegal for any person to interfere with the discharge of those duties.

Assistance animal and guide dog laws

Here are statutes comprising the state’s relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.


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