When it comes to repealing Miami-Dade’s longstanding ban on Pit Bull dogs, County Commissioners have decided to let the residents vote on the issue. On August 14th, voters will be asked a very confusing and biased question: “Shall the ordinance repealing the county’s 23 year old law prohibiting ownership of pit bulls a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?”
The Commissioners do not want the repeal to pass: it’s why they put it to a public vote and worded it that way. The question is intended to confuse people and associates the word “dangerous” with Pit Bull. And in a county where fear of Pit Bulls is everywhere, will voters choose to repeal the ban?
Now, the responsibility falls to those who think all breeds should be welcome in Miami-Dade– those in favor of ending this antiquated, ineffective law. My regular readers know I do not support BSL and would love nothing more to end it in my county. Here’s why:
- For example, in order to prevent a single hospitalization resulting from a dog bite, the authors calculate that a city or town would have to ban more than 100,000 dogs of a targeted breed. To prevent a second hospitalization, double that number. Dog-bite related fatalities are so extremely rare that not even a state could ban enough dogs to insure that they had prevented even one.
→A breed does not make a dog “dangerous”; unfortunately, some people train dogs to be dangerous. People should be held responsible for their dogs, no matter what breed. States and counties that have implemented breed-neutral laws, placing responsibility on owners have seen decreases in dog attacks and dangerous dogs while places with BSL, like Miami-Dade, have no reduction in dog attacks or dangerous dogs.
→Miami’s BSL targets “Pit Bull dogs”. According to Section 5-17.1 in Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances, a Pit Bull Dog is any dog that “substantially conforms to the standards established by the American Kennel Club” for the following breeds: American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers or any other dog that displays characteristics of these breeds. Even a dog with a shred of resemblance could be targeted and incorrectly labeled as a Pit Bull type dog.
→Miami-Dade taxpayers (me!) spend $3 million a year enforcing BSL. This includes costs for employment of officers, investigations, confiscations and extermination of the poor dogs who go into the shelter because they were confiscated from their owners. Many of them are family dogs.
→Breed misidentification is a big problem and many dogs who are not Pit Bulls fall victim to the ban and are killed. Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS) is responsible for enforcing the county’s ban and employees identify “Pit Bull dogs” from this PDF “description sheet”. The scary thing is, a dog only has to have one or two of these characteristics to be incorrectly labeled. Human error also plays a large part; if he looks like a Pittie to the employee processing him, he’s automatically labeled, no questions asked.
I rescued both Scarlett and Chelsea from MDAS; Scarlett was labeled a Labrador Retriever and Chelsea was labeled a German Shepherd mix.
Supporters of ending the Pit Bull ban are advocating like crazy and will continue to do so until August 14th, when voters will take to the polls. It is up to dog lovers to educate the community about these lovable breeds that get a bad reputation and dispel the false stereotype that has been propelled by both the media and the breed ban itself. That’s a tall order!
Miami-Dade residents, I urge you to VOTE YES on this important issue and end the murder of thousands of Pit Bulls, mixes and those that resemble Pits in our county every year. Spread awareness by voicing the issue with friends and colleagues, posting photos and reminders on social media and reminding everyone to get registered and to vote.
CLICK HERE to learn how to register to vote in Miami-Dade County. You must be registered 30 days before the election (on or before July 14th) to vote in this election.
CLICK HERE to visit Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation on Facebook and get free awareness banners and photos to display on your profile or website and start raise awareness now! Here’s the banner on my Facebook page:
There is no denying this is a very controversial issue and we want to hear from you! Do you think Miami-Dade should end the breed ban? More importantly, do you think voters will?
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