Laws to prevent dog attacks target pit bull owners

While some pet owners may beg to differ, pit bulls can be dangerous animals, of which many Florida residents are well aware. Miami-Dade County, for instance, will retain its ban on pit bulls. The ban was first put into effect in 1989, when a young boy was viciously attacked in the face by a pit bull.

The ban on pit bulls includes American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and mixes of the two breeds. Citizens of the county who are caught owning the dogs may be subject to a $500 fine and court-ordered removal of their pet.

Pit bull owners and activists in the county, known as the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation, have been fighting for the repeal since 2008. Coalition members weren’t overly optimistic that they would win the fight, but they say that they will continue their work to decriminalize the dogs. The activists claim that the law unfairly targets their dogs. The coalition members claim that no specific dog breed should be stereotyped as dangerous, and that dog owners need to take responsibility for their pets to keep them from harming others.

In a related effort, a group called No Kill Nation has stepped up their attempts to have shelters in the area try to find homes outside the county for the dogs instead of euthanizing them. The shelter has pledged not to kill any more of the dogs, but since no one in the county is permitted to adopt one of the dogs, this pledge may be difficult to achieve.

The state legislature had considered abolishing the ban, but county commissioners successfully argued that they could maintain a local law against the dangerous dogs. As the ban was kept in place by a nearly two to one margin in a recent vote, it is clear that the citizens are focusing on safety.

Source: Miami Herald, “In Miami-Dade pit bulls remain illegal,” Elinor J. Brecher, Aug. 15, 2012

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