Hearing Officer Says Miami-Dade County Pit Bull Ban Unenforceable!

Miami-Dade County, Florida (March 19, 2009) Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation (MCABSL) and Animal Law Coalition applaud a hearing officer’s ruling that the Miami Dade County Pit Bull ban is too vague, and the county cannot enforce the finding by animal control that a dog named Apollo is a pit bull that must be euthanized or removed from the county. 

The ruling came in a case challenging the finding by Miami Dade County Animal Control that a family pet named Apollo was a "pit bull" that must be removed from the county or euthanized.

In Ordinance No. 89-22, the county bans all dogs that "substantially conform" to American Kennel Club standards for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers or United Kennel Club standards for American Pit Bull Terriers. 

To determine if a dog substantially conforms to these standards, animal control uses a chart that lists 15 body parts such as "head", "neck", "lips", "chest", "eyes", "tail", "hind legs", etc. The officer places a check mark to indicate whether each characteristic conforms or not to a pit bull. If 3 or more characteristics are checked "conform", the dog is declared a pit bull. The county’s pit bull evaluation form is attached at the end of this article and can be downloaded.

Rima Bardawil, the attorney for Apollo, pointed out that there is no such chart authorized by the ordinance and it is not clear what standards animal control is using in making its determinations.

Also, Dahlia Canes, executive director of MCABSL, testified that animal control is "constantly" mis-identifying the breeds of dogs. She told the court about one dog that was declared by an animal control officer to be a pit bull mix and ordered euthanized.  Canes arranged to have the dog re-evaluated and he was determined to be a mastiff mix. The dog was then adopted to a family in Miami-Dade County. 

In this case the animal control officer photographed Apollo from several feet away and then using the photo, picked body parts he said he thought conformed to pit bull standards, whatever those are.

As Canes pointed out later, "Many breeds of dogs and mixes have the same or similar traits. It is impossible to determine breed this way. Seriously, you are going to say a dog is a pit bull based on 3 traits like round eyes, broad shoulders and a muscular body?  Dogs are many times genetically a mix of many different breeds. The judge agreed. This proves breed shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether a dog presents a danger." 

Go here for more on a possible legal challenge to the Miami Dade County pit bull ordinance.

Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation was formed in 2008 and its members work for the repeal of the Miami Dade County pit bull ban. For more information visit, http://www.mcabsl.wildapricot.org/   

20 thoughts on “Hearing Officer Says Miami-Dade County Pit Bull Ban Unenforceable!”

  1. Does this mean, Pit Bulls are NOW allowed in DADE County? Maybe I can get my DOG BACK? & To Think That Animal Control Fined Me $500.00

  2. No, it doesn’t mean that "pit bulls" are now allowed in Miami Dade County.  It means a hearing officer found the ordinance vague and refused to enforce the ban against Apollo.  Laura

  3. Its about time someone takes action why is it ok to have pitbull’s anywhere but Dade County. Its stupid, Any dog can be dangerouse or agressive it is up to the owner how your dog will act or become. Instead of getting rid of pitbulls why isnt there laws that can protect these beautiful pitbull away from these bad owners and go to good hands. Any dog that you take a bone from them will attack no matter the breed, size, color, No dog is pure breed beacuse all the breeds that we see today came from wild wolfs. So how can you determain a pure breed by its structure. I support AMERICAN PITT TERRIER they are loyal, sweet, better looking than any breed .. I prey that they can be legal anywhere and if you dont like it Fu

  4. I don’t understand why there is a ban on a breed. Why are specific dogs being targeted. There are other major cities in this country that have found a balance for the needs of the public and the dog owners. In Boston you have to have your dog muzzeled when outside. And you have to watch them if you have them on a chain outside. I think the laws are annoying, but they can keep your dog safe from stupid people. There are so many things that can be done before killing a dog because of the breed. Why is there no search for balance in the laws here?

  5. “Why is there no search for balance in the laws here?”
    Mostly because people tend to act on impulse instead of researching the facts for themselves. (Or the politicians are too much of a coward to not give into the demands of the people.) And people in general seem to be so danged gullible.

  6. These bans really bother me, but proper tracking of incidents and the relative ratio of Pit Bulls owns, vs attacks should show that it’s only a small problem, not directly tied to the breed itself, but to bad owners in general. There should be laws, but not restriction on the breed because, like a lot of us out there, my sweet pit bull is the nicest dog – better than my two chihuahuas and NOT NEARLY as mean. They’re all great though : )

    There’s a cute article on My.Arfie.com about sweet pit bulls – check it out http://my.arfie.com/profiles/blogs/pit-bulls-are-sweet-and-smart

    Not a bad site if you like social stuff

  7. my apbt has got to be the friendliest dog ever. the real problem is the snitches that are alll around , and want to see you go down . keep your apbt hidden till this matter is resolved. if animal control comes to pay you a visit do not open the door. if they dont hear the dog they cant come in .they have to leave .these corrupt fools work for the snitches , and can become a real pain in your ass ,and dont even bother going to their hearing its a set up ,and they stick you with the fine anyways its like agreeinng to talk to the cops you will never win . so if you love your pit hang in there we shall see beter days .

  8. i don’t think that pitbulls should be banned from Miami Dade cause they are not a dangerous breed. when i was 1 and 5 (i am now 23) i was attacked buy a cocker spaniel and a mini schnauzer. i have 4 lasorations on my face. and that wasn’t from a “dangerous pibull”. in fact me and my family have had 3 pitbull generations, and they were all with kids under the age of 5. and NONE of our dogs have growled, shown their teeth or raised their hair on their back. in fact at this very moment my sister has a 1yr old and a 3yr old pitbull. she was pregnant and had the pitbull. and when my mom had me her cocker spaniel attacked me it wasn’t a putbull. when i moved to Tampa later the month and i saw a sticker that said “don’t punish the dog punish the owner” and that cant be more true. i was driving threw overtown early last yr(2008) and found a female pitbull with a collar embedded in here neck, her teeth were filed down (so she would cut the other dogs-she was a bait dog from what i saw)bleeding cuts, skin missing, you can see her back bone her ribs every other bone in her body because she was so skinny, and not mention her nipples were huge which might be from having puppies at an early age(when i found her she was 9month). i picked her up(yes i picked her up!) took her home fed her. her actions was like she hadn’t eaten in years. the next morning i took her to my job(i am a vet tech)cleaned her up and got her fat. things happened and my ex stayed with her. when i went back to miami to see my family i went to his families house and picked her up(actually rescued her)brought her to Tampa and gave her to the pitbull association so she can have a better life. what the sticker said is true. you shouldn’t punish the dog for it only knows one way to be. on the other the owner does know another way to train. in my opinion the $500 fine the felony should be for the people who fight. why is it that Micheal Vic goes to jail and gets allllllllll this media attention for what? there are other people A LOT of other people who are doing to the same thing at this very minute. what are you doing about it?

  9. It is ridiculous that they try to ban pitbulls. I have a beautiful pitbull and this is the most affection sweet dog I have ever owned. It’s not the breed ir’s the owner and how they raise them.

  10. Finally a win for all discriminated dogs. Another noter FL HB189 and SB922 were squashed!!!!! Another win!!

    As of May 2, Florida HB 189 / SB 922, which would have eliminated the statewide prohibition on breed-specific legislation, has been “indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration” per the Florida Legislature website. Therefore, the bill is no longer viable.

  11. so whats up is it over can i bring my baby home to dade did they over turn it ive been hearing so many rumours does any know whats really going on lrt me know lonlely with out my boy

  12. I am going through something of the sort, with the County, someone called animal control and stated only that I have a Pit Bull, not that my dog did anything, he is more a Mutt than Pit, only because his face has the Pit profile. I am not sure if there is anything I can do. So far the inv. only gave me a warnign andstated either I get ride of him or the cty. will take him and you know that within 48 hours he will be euthanized. I have not stopped crying. I have a mixed terrier and a maltese that love Tonka so much that they also will be affected if they remove my dog. Any suggestions???? I can’t find anyone to keep him until I fight this.

  13. I live in unincorporated miami dade county and have two loving pits one that i have had for 11 years, we have lived out in the country for 15 yrs and never had a problem until last week a nieghbor of 10 yrs called animal services on us. I was wondering if there is some kind of loop hole that says if you have a certain amount of home owners insurance you can keep your pits. does anyone know anything about this?

  14. I own a blue nose pit and I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks…I love her with all of my heart and she is a daughter to me. She has never bitten anybody or any animal and she loves all animals and people. She has been physically attacked by both people and other dogs on several occasions and she has NEVER fought back–she always just yelped and tried to run away so I know for a FACT that she is not an agressive dog. My problem is that I want to attend a university in Miami-Dade County because I love Miami and I could live 3 hours closer to my mother that way, however, I am NOT willing to give up my baby. I heard about that court hearing where the judge said the law was too vague to be enforced and I’m wondering if there’s been any headway in removing the breed-specific legislation and replacing it with a behavior-specific legislation. Does anybody know if or when it will be legal for me to move to Miami with my pitbull?

Comments are closed.