Miami Dade County Voters Reject Pit Bull Ban – Maybe

Update August 15, 2012: Yesterday, by a vote of 63% to 37% Miami Dade County voters said no to this question on their ballots:

Shall the ordinance repealing the County’s 23 year old law prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?

A “no” vote meant the ban on pit bulls should remain in place. But the language was confusing. One voter complained, “When I first read it, I thought ‘no’ would mean ‘no, I don’t want the ban’.”

The ballot question also characterized pit bull dogs as “dangerous”. Or strongly implied it. More confusion for voters. A continuing death sentence for innocent dogs.

Update May 2, 2012: Yesterday, on May 1, 2012, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution to put the question to voters on August 14, 2012 whether the county’s 23 year old pit bull ban should be repealed. Only Commissioner Barbara Jordan opposed the resolution though Commr. Xavier Suarez was absent.

The vote was approved in an effort by the County Commissioners to avoid state legislation that would have effectively repealed the pit bull ban. For more on that, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

In the meantime, if you live in Florida, to vote in support of repeal of the pit bull ban, you must be registered to vote by July 31, 2012.

The Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation (MCABSL) is spearheading the effort to repeal this cruel and pointless ban that has meant the deaths of thousands of family pets. Go here for more from MCABSL…and here.

Update March 3, 2012: There was no vote on H.B. 997 by the full Florida House of Representatives. Rep. Trujillo, the bill’s sponsor, postponed the vote as part of an agreement with the Miami Dade County Board of Commissioners who say they plan to put the issue to a countywide vote, i.e., whether the breed discriminatory law, the county pit bull ban, should remain in place. The vote is not expected to take place for some months.  For now, it does not appear that H.B. 997 will move further this session.

Update March 1, 2012: H.B. 997 may be taken up by the Florida House of Representatives TOMORROW, FRIDAY, MARCH 2 on a special calendar. Here is more information.

A Budget Subcommittee, Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations, has failed to pass S.B. 1322, but the bill can still be called for a vote by the full Senate. It is critical now that Florida residents call their state legislators in support of H.B. 997 and S.B. 1322, a bill that would end the pit bull ban in Miami Dade County. Go here for more information, sample talking points and contact information.

Also, for more on this bill, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.

Update Feb. 7, 2012: The Florida House of Representatives Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee today approved the bill that would effectively repeal the Miami-Dade County pit bull ban. H.B. 997. The bill almost immediately has been taken up by the State Committee and we are awaiting a report of that vote. Also, the Senate version of the bill, S.B. 1322 has been approved by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee and now moves to the Budget committee.

More committees, but this terrible discriminatory law is on the verge of repeal. According to Miami Citizens Against Breed Specific Legislation (MCABSL) the only real opposition the bill faces is from the Miami Dade County government. This despite the estimated cost to taxpayers of $3,000,000 to administer and enforce the ban.

Read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below for more on this bill and how Florida residents can help pass it.

Update Jan. 31, 2012: The Florida House of Representatives Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee has now approved the House version of the bill that would end Miami-Dade County pit bull ban! The bill, H.B. 997, now goes to the Community and Military Affairs Subcommittee. For more on this bill including the Senate version, S.B. 1322, which passed its first committee yesterday, and how you can help pass it, read Animal Law Coalition’s reports below.

Update Jan. 30, 2012: The Florida Senate Community Affairs Committee has approved S.B. 1322, the senate version of a bill that would end the Miami-Dade County pit bull ban. The bill must pass 2 other senate committees before it is taken up by the full Florida Senate. The Governmental Oversight and Accountability (GO) and Budget (BC) committees must approve the measure. The House of Representatives version, H.B. 997 is set to be heard by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee tomorrow, Jan. 31, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.

Continue to contact your Florida state senator in support of S.B. 1322 and also your Florida state representative in support of the House of Representatives version, H.B. 997. 

For more on the bill and how you can contact your state rep and senator, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.

Original report: A bill has been proposed that could end Miami-Dade County’s long time ban on pit bull dogs. Or dogs that animal control say are pit bulls.

It’s a simple fix to a Florida law:  Section 767.14 prohibits breed discrimination in Florida except where there was a breed discriminatory ordinance in place prior to October 1, 1990. Of course, the only place that applies to is Miami-Dade which has banned pit bulls since 1989.

By simply amending Section 767.14 to eliminate the clause grandfathering in breed discriminatory ordinances in effect prior to October 1, 1990, the state could effectively bring an end to Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban that has resulted in the death of thousands of family pets.

The bill, H.B. 997, was introduced in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami-Dade County Republican. The Senate version, S.B. 1322, has been introduced by state Sen. Jim Norman.

Go here to find your Florida state representative and here to find your state senator. Let Rep. Trujillo and Sen. Norman know you support this legislation: and

A number of states prohibit breed discrimination: States that prohibit breed discriminatory laws

There is not one major animal or health organization including the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, among many others, that supports breed discrimination.

Breed specific legislation does not work to make communities safe. Study after study has proven this. Dogs don’t bite because of breed or appearance; they bite out of fear that could have been the result of poor socialization, neglect, abuse, tethering or confinement or isolation.  In other words, it is the owner’s negligent or criminal actions that are responsible, not the dog’s breed or appearance.

BSL penalizes responsible dog owners and means the death of dogs that are not in any way dangerous.

It is also well-established that people cannot look at a dog and determine its breed. Recently, in Denver Dr. Victoria Voith did a little test on animal shelter directors, dog trainers and others who work with dogs.

They were asked to view 20 dogs on a videotape and identify each one by breed including whether the dog was a purebred or a mix. The professionals were surprised by how few dogs they identified correctly by breed. Voith believes as many as 75% of the pit bull identifications made by shelter workers, animal control or law enforcement are wrong. She is the author of Shelter Medicine: A Comparison of Visual and DNA Identifications of BREEDS of Dogs. As DNA testing becomes more reliable, it is proving that many of the dogs identified as pit bull are actually a mix of dozens of breeds with little or none of the DNA of pit bull type dogs.

That means a lot of dogs condemned by BSL are not even “pit bull” breeds.

BSL is a very costly negative for a community and state and will create a climate where dogs are viewed as enemies rather than family members requiring proper care, management and love. Go here for ways to improve relations in the community with dogs and also how to address the reasons dogs bite and keep communities safe. 


Sec. 767.14. Nothing
in this act shall limit any local government from placing further
restrictions or additional requirements on owners of dangerous dogs or
developing procedures and criteria for the implementation of this act,
provided that no such regulation is specific to breed and that the
provisions of this act are not lessened by such additional regulations
or requirements. This section shall not apply to any local ordinance
adopted prior to October 1, 1990.