In Miami-Dade, pit bulls remain illegal

0 Comments Posted by tcahvet in News on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012.

Miami-Dade banned pit bulls 23 years ago.
Ethan Hyman / Staff photo by Ethan Hyman

The Miami Herald
Repeal advocates say they’re disappointed, but won’t give up their fight to end the ban.


Pit bulls are still outlaws in Miami-Dade County.

Voters overwhelming opted to keep a 1989 ban on American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and high-content mixes of both.

“The fight does not end here,’’ said Debi Day, an activist with No Kill Nation. “Plans B, C and D will go into effect immediately. We will not let the pit bulls and their owners be forever victim to this discriminatory law.’’

Dade residents voted 63.2 percent to 36.8 percent to keep the ban which was first put in place when a dog ripped apart the face of a Kendall 8-year-old.

Among them, voters Patrick and Sonia Reid of West Kendall, who consider the dogs “vicious.’’

“People don’t always do what they are supposed to do,’’ said Patrick Reid. “They are supposed to keep them secured.”

But on the flip side, graphic designer and mother Lily Sanchez voted for repeal.

“These dogs shouldn’t be discriminated. It’s up to the owners and breeders on how they train their dog,” Sanchez said. “With a 23-year ban, it’s time to stop.”

Repeal advocates waged a passionate grassroots campaign with the help of celebrities like Shorty Rossi, from the reality show “Pit Boss,’’ and Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle, who settled in Broward after signing with the team because one of his family’s pets, Slater, is an American Staffordshire.

Dahlia Canes, founder of the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation, the group that spearheaded the ban repeal, was disappointed but not surprised.

“We didn’t think it would pass,’’ said Canes. “This was handed to us [by the County Commission] whether we liked it or not and we had to take up the challenge. We only had a few months to reeducate an entire county that has been brainwashed for 23 years.’’

In February, a group of Miami-Dade commissioners short-circuited what appeared to be a winning effort in the state legislature to abolish the ban, calling it an attack on the county’s home rule authority.

Canes also said that putting the words “pit bull’’ and “dangerous dog’’ in the same sentence in the ballot question all but doomed the effort.

Repeal advocates say that pit bulls suffer from unwarranted stereotyping as vicious killers with nearly supernatural powers of destruction, and that thousands live peacefully as family pets all over Miami-Dade despite the ban.

During the day Tuesday, repeal supporter posted pictures of their illegal dogs on the Coalition’s Facebook page with from-the-dog comments like: “I can’t wait to go to the dog park!’’ and “Waiting for the results so I can walk down the street for the first time in my 10 years of life. They say every dog has their day and today is my day!!’’

Miami-Dade Animal Services Director Alex Munoz said in a statement that the department “respects the will of the electorate and its decision to not repeal the ‘pit bull’ ban today.

“We want the public to know that while this ban continues, the department will continue to work with rescue organizations and adopters to find new lifelong homes for ‘pit bulls’ outside of Miami-Dade County.’’

Herald writers Stephanie Parra, Andrea Torres, Lidia Dinkova and Sabrina Rodriguez, contributed to this report.

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