Agricultural Classification for Canine Activities?

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I am unaware of any court cases besides the one I will discuss involving canine use for the Agricultural Classification, however, it is my professional opinion that if one wished to pursue the argument, he/she would have a great chance of winning this in a petition hearing against a county or prevailing in a court room according to the argument I present to you below. This argument is only the legal basis. In other words, it does not assume you have met the other guidelines such as the use on the property as of Jan 1st and the business is active on the property. Here’s the disclaimer: it may be advisable to contact either a tax representative or real estate attorney if the property was denied due to the legal issue alone.


FL Statute 193.461 Section 3. (b) reads verbatim: Subject to the restrictions specified in this section, only lands that are used primarily for bonafide agricultural purposes shall be classified agricultural. The term “bonafide agricultural purposes” means good faith commercial agricultural use of the land.

The statue further specifies in Section 5 of 193.461: For the purpose of this section, the term “agricultural purposes” includes, but is not limited to, horticulture; floriculture; viticulture; forestry; dairy; livestock; poultry; bee; pisciculture, if the land is used principally for the production of tropical fish; aquaculture as defined in s. 597.0015; algaculture; sod farming; and all forms of farm products as defined in s. 823.14(3) and farm production.

Section 2. (d) of Statute 823.14 reads: “Farm product” means any plant, as defined in s. 581.011, or animal or insect useful to humans and includes, but is not limited to, any product derived therefrom. Dogs are obviously animals and I’m sure if you’re reading this you can simply research how dogs are useful to humans.

The case law further proves canine boarding breeding and training should be included under the umbrella of the Agricultural Classification. A similar path was already paved with equine.

In the case, Aitkin V. Markham (1991),  the Aitkens owned approximately 22 acres in which included a residence and 17.44 acres are devoted to the Aitkens’ Dutch Warm-blooded horse breeding business. They were denied the Ag Classification due to the purchase price paid, the business wasn’t profitable as of January 1st, and the property appraiser didn’t include Dutch Warm-blooded horse breeding with livestock breeding. The ruling was overturned partially due to the disparate treatment afforded breeders of Dutch Warmbloods does not appear to be founded upon any legitimate justification. In other words, it does not matter what type of horse is being bred. Breeding livestock falls under the umbrella of the Agricultural Classification. The classification was further extended to include boarding and training after the case Markham V. PPI Pompano Park (2003) was tried. The property appraiser denied a request for an Agricultural Classification, concluding that the boarding and training of horses was not an agricultural use since it did not lead to the production of an agricultural product. The conclusion that the phrase “all forms of farm products and farm production” contained in section 193.461(5) “is not meant to be a limiting phrase but rather a catch-all” and an Agricultural Classification was applied to the property.

If equine use the agricultural classification for breeding boarding and training was obtained from trials and horses are “useful to humans”, then why are dogs not? This does not seem fair in the least. After all, we use dogs for police use, medical use, and for family use, the same with horses. The only argument provided is: dogs are not livestock and have been tried (although at fault) for this before in the case law:  St Petersburg Kennel Club Inc V. Smith (1995). The Kennel Club applied for and was denied an Agricultural Classification because they considered greyhound dogs are “livestock.” when the legislature has defined “livestock” for various statutory purposes, the term has been confined to those animals that graze or that may be used in and for the preparation of meat or meat products. In the United States, dogs do not fit within any of these statutory definitions.

However, dogs are useful to humans and should be tried as such.  The statute states “animal or insect useful to humans and includes, but is not limited to, any product derived therefrom”. Should the canine use be tried under the Florida Supreme Court, although dogs are not livestock, they fit within the definition in Section 5 of 193.461, the term “agricultural purposes”. Like in the cases Aitkin V. Markham and Markham V. PPI Pompano Park, omit the term equine and substitute it with canine (animal useful to humans) and abra cadabra WOOLAH.

This leads me to the case law Mclendon V. Nikolits (2017):  Although  aviculture  is  not  explicitly  listed  in  the statute,  “animals  useful  to  humans”  being  a  “farm  product”, is unambiguously defined, authorizes  the  agricultural exemption. Both affiants opined that aviculture is useful to humans for multiple reasons   including   companionship,   concern   for   endangered   species, entertainment, education, and scientific purposes.   The trial court expressly   conceded   that   aviculture   provides   birds   used   “for   their   entertainment or novelty value.”  With this concession, unrebutted by the Property  Appraiser,  it was  concluded  that  at  the  very  least  the  McLendons’ birds  are  “useful  to  humans”  as entertainment  and  companions and, therefore,  constitute  a  farm  product  as  that  term  is  used  in  sections  193.461(5) and 823.14(3). In conclusion, the term is not limited to, any product derived therefrom. Because of the “not limited to” statement, the courts decided not to limit the definition to what is listed. The McClendon’s proved birds are useful and the courts ruled in their favor.

Application Directions

Name: The name section is the owner of the property’s name or a representative such as a manager of the business or a tax representative legally that is allowed to represent the interest of the fee simple owner. The tenant does not have the legal right only if they are responsible for the taxes on the lease.

Phone: Include the contact number of the owner or someone that has access to the property on behalf of the owner.

Parcel ID: Write in the parcel ID instead of the legal description. The legal description makes finding the property almost impossible for the researcher. The parcel ID can be found by looking up your property on the property appraiser’s website.

Land Used Primarily for Agricultural Purposes Section: If you do not see your specific use in this section, your use would be written in the other box. Circle or simply indicate which use you are applying for by writing in the box to the right the number of acres you’re applying for. The next box to the right is indicates how long you have been active in this particular agricultural use.

The Agricultural Income from this Property: Specify the year and what Ag use such canine in this case. The gross income is how much money in total was made that year. Your expenses are what you had to pay to keep that use going. Your net income is the gross income minus the expenses.

Under the Agricultural Income Section is the Date Purchased and the Purchase Price. The purchase price isn’t as important as the date purchased but it may be helpful to the Appraiser’s Office to know this information.

A Tangible Account is a business account filed with the Property Appraiser. This is a good indication there is a business on the property. It is not a necessity, but you would know if you filed or not. Answer “no” if you do not have a business tax account with the Property Appraiser.

The next question: Is the property leased to others? If there is any lease on the property, including a residential lease or a beekeeping lease, the answer is “yes”.

Has the property been rezoned to a non-agricultural use at the request of the owner? In other words, if the property was zoned Agricultural/Residential (AR) or just Agricultural, and you as the owner put in a request to the Department of Building and Zoning to change the zoning code to say, commercial, it’s very possible that agricultural use could be an illegal use and disqualify you from acceptance. Again, you would know if you changed the zoning.

There is a small area to file out that indicates the year you are applying for so make sure this is completed.

Sign and date your application. Make a copy of it and when you send it or drop it off, get a receipt of some sort to prove when you applied should there be any issues down the road.

Application deadlines are March 1 in the year of which you are applying (FL Statute 193.461 (3.a). Again, the application can be found here.


Once the application is submitted, you need to prove use is and was on the property on January 1. Try and take photographs of the use as close to January 1st as possible for documentation. Time and date stamp your photos if possible.

Now, I will admit, the whole topic of dog breeding, boarding, or training is new to me and the text is only the result of my research. You should continue the search for your own safety.

The sequence of events for this application is different due to the federal laws involved. The agricultural classification is a state law of Florida meaning, the only laws that will trump the agricultural classification are federal laws although other state laws may become applicable. Municipal and county laws must give way to the classification but I advise to use discretionary caution with such a statement.  To be logical, the use must be on the property as of Jan 1st. How can the use be on the property as of Jan 1st if the use isn’t legal? An illegal use is not bona fide as is not privy to an Agricultural Classification as in Shultz V. Love PGI Partners. In summary of this case,an agricultural use of property in violation of applicable zoning regulations cannot be considered “good faith” commercial agricultural use of the land entitling its owner to an agricultural exemption. Therefore, it is my humble opinion to do your due diligence and conform to the regulations of the local counties and municipalities before pursuing the Agricultural Classification. There are too many rules and regulations to list on this site so I leave that to the reader to research this topic further to investigation what is needed to pursue legal canine breeding, boarding, or training.


Much of the information containing the Animal Welfare Act and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is verbatim directly from their websites. I encourage you to visit those websites directly for your own due diligence.

AWA can be researched at Passed by Congress in 1966, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) sets general standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain animals that are bred for commercial sale, sold sight unseen (Internet sales), exhibited to the public, used in biomedical research, or transported commercially. Congress assigned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the responsibility for enforcing the AWA. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the agency within USDA responsible for ensuring this occurs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes the federal laws on dog breeding within this PDF:

Although Federal requirements establish basic standards, regulated businesses are encouraged to exceed these standards. The AWA requires that all individuals or businesses dealing with animals covered under the law must be licensed or registered with APHIS.

  • Your specific activities involving dogs (and other regulated animals) will determine the type of license. • A Class A licensee is a breeder whose business consists of dogs and other regulated animals bred and raised on his or her premises in a closed or stable colony (plus those acquired for the sole purpose of maintaining or enhancing the breeding colony).
  • A Class B licensee is a dealer or broker whose business includes the purchase and/or resale of any dog or other regulated animal. This includes brokers and auction operators because they negotiate or arrange the purchase, sale or commercial transport of dogs.
  • A Class C licensee is an exhibitor who displays dogs or other regulated animals to the public.

The AWA website provided moves on to give examples of what type of activities need a license, Q&A activities with dogs requiring a USDA license.

As for laws at the state level, there are no laws I am currently aware of that require a license to breed however there are animal cruelty laws that require all dogs and cats sold within the state to have an official veterinarian certificate to verify proper inspection, including administered vaccinations. There are also statutes that provide protection for customers who unknowingly purchase sick or diseased pets from breeders. Those statutes can be found here.


There are no federal licensing requirements or standards for private animal boarding or training businesses that I am aware of as of the date of this text. For the State of Florida, you must register with the Division of Corporations. Other than that, Florida has no special license requirements for pet sitting services other than the standard business registration license. The same goes with training. At the local level, it is my humble opinion to do your due diligence and conform to the regulations of the local counties and municipalities before pursuing the Agricultural Classification. There are too many rules and regulations to list on this site so I leave that to the reader to research this topic further to investigation what is needed to pursue legal canine breeding, boarding, or training.

Although there are no federal or State guidelines on training, I have added some of the more well-known paths to become a dog trainer. Again, do your due diligence to investigate the local ordinances.

I do not endorse one way or another and the order listed is in no special order. Some of the verbiage about the website has been directly copied from that website.

  • Cobeslskill, NY SUNNY Canine Training and management: The Bachelor of Technology Degree in Canine Training and Management is designed to provide students with the opportunity for in-depth study in the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully train and manage dogs, including subjects in biology, anatomy, training, behavior, management, health, genetics, nutrition, and physiology. The program offers the range and depth of course work to enter directly into the field of canine training and management or to pursue graduate studies. 
  • Pat Steward: Pat took the plunge and began training dogs full time after a more than 12 year career in Army Special Forces.  He operates his own business called Operant Canine and is helping the dog training community one dog at a time.
  • Bart Bellon: The NePoPo® School is a world renowned school & community that excel in dog education. The NePoPo® dog training methodology has been developed by Bart & Michael Bellon and stands for Negative – Positive – Positive dog training (
  • Ivan Balabanob: : Ivan has over 30 years of experience in dog training, breeding, dog sport, protection, and civil work. As the founder of Ot Vitosha Malinois, Ivan breeds world class dogs that are capable of everything from being a family pet, being champions of dog sport, and assisting local police, as well as handling dangerous and clandestine missions around the world in Special Forces teams.
  • Pat Nolan: Following a successful 30-year career training retrievers for hunting and competitions I began to apply lessons learned in e-collar conditioning and remote directional training to working with military and police units. There is a Podcast and working dog radio: geared towards military and police. K-9 paradigm, Pet dogs podcast.
  • Michael Ellis: Michael is an internationally renowned dog trainer and teacher with 30 years of experience in the competitive dog sports.  He has taught extensively to a very diverse group of trainers, from competitive sport trainers, police departments, and the US military, to search and rescue groups, service dog agencies, and pet dog trainers. Michael’s clear, concise, and patient style has made him one of the most popular coaches of trainers in the country.

If you have additional information I am not aware of or you believe is a contribution to the information stated, please send me an email at Thank you in advance for your participation.