A Legal Challenge to Miami-Dade County Pit Bull Ban
|September 18, 2008||Posted by russmead under Breed Bans|
Florida attorney, Rima C. Bardawil, has served notice on Miami-Dade County’s Animal Services Attorney, Dennis Kerbel,Â that she represents certain, as yet unnamed dog ownersÂ "who lost, were forced to move, had to give up their beloved pet, or are presently in fear of losing their pet and being wrongly fined."Â Â Â
Bardawil states the Miami-Dade County pit bull ban,Â Miami-Dade County Ordinance 89-22, Section 5-17,Â "is improper and must be invalidated immediately.Â Â The Ordinance is unconstitutional, implemented inconsistently, selectively and results in capricious and arbitrary results."
Bardawil notes, "The Ordinance states that it relies on American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers and United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers; however this claim is untrue.Â First and foremost, these are copyrighted standards of which you have never been given permission to use and have actually been advised not to use them by the respective associations.Â
"Secondly, even if some how you find a way to support your using these standards, you are NOT using their entire standard list.Â Â The list of traits that Miami-Dade County uses is a summary of some, but not all traits listed by these organizations.Â How can you properly determine what is "Substantially conform," when you are not even using the entire list of traits to go by?"
Bardawil continues, "Moreover, how can you determine what substantially conforms is?Â Is it Fifty-One (51%) percent, Fifty Five (55%) Percent, Sixty-Five (65%) percent, or Seventy-Five (75%) percent within which you are measuring substantial to mean?Â Â How can a citizen of Miami-Dade County determine whether they are in compliance with this law when the very law is unclear?" Â Â
Bardawil summarizes, "[T]his Ordinance [is] wholly invalid on its face.Â Clearly this ordinance is in direct violation of Miami-Dade County residents’ right to due process of law.Â Â It is clear that since different people can interpret what is classified as a dog substantially complying as to what a Pit Bull is, then this ordinance is ‘void for vagueness.’
"Miami-Dade County’s Ordinance 89-22, improperly forces people of common intelligence to have to guess as to the meaning of the statute, and differ as to its interpretation.Â A better case of a statute or ordinance being struck down as being void for vagueness could not have been created."
Bardawil points out, "[O]ver the years, Miami-Dade County has improperly killed countless dogs in violation of the very ordinance that you are claiming to go by.Â Specifically, the ordinance at issue states in Section 5-17.6-Time for Compliance subsection (b)(2).Â This section states that violation of section 5-17.6, may result in civil violation notice and (2) ‘Humane destruction ofÂ the pit bull dog by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.Â The County Manager or his designee may apply to the court for such order pursuant to this paragraph.’"Â Â
"Miami-Dade county has wrongfully taken alleged pit bull dogs away from their owners to kill them without seeking court order or advising the owner that killing of their pet cannot be completed without court order.Â As a result, Miami-Dade County has committed countless acts in violation of this ordinance and has deprived countless residents of their property without due process of law."
Bardawil demandsÂ "that Miami-Dade County CEASE AND DESIST at ONCE, its implementation of Ordinance No. 89-22 in its entirety, or otherwise face impending legal action."
Expect litigation to follow. The fight is on to overturn the longstanding Miami-Dade County pit bull ban.Â A federal district court inÂ American Dog Owners Ass’n v. Dade County, 728 F. Supp. 1533Â Â (S.D. FL 1989) has rejected a challenge to the ordinance’s facial validity, claiming it was not too vague for people to understand what was prohibited. No court has ruled whether the ordinance is applied or enforced unconstitutionally.Â