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UPDATE: On August 14, 2012, Miami-Dade voters chose to continue their 23-years long history of breed discrimination by upholding the ban that prevents residents from owning pit bulls and pit mixes.
And so, the fight to end BSL continues.
On August 14, voters in Miami-Dade County, Florida, will decide whether or not to repeal a countywide breed-specific pit bull ban.
Although the state of Florida prohibits breed-specific legislation, Miami-Dade County’s “grandfathered in” law has banned pit bulls and pit bull mixes for the past 23 years.
The ban was prompted when 7-year old Melissa Moreira was mauled by a pit bill outside of her Miami home. Moreira, now 31-years old says the ban’s critics are playing on the emotions of animal lovers at the expense of public safety, reported the Miami Herald.
“I think that if I were bit by a poodle, I wouldn’t have had to have eight major reconstructive plastic surgeries,” said Moreira, who vehemently opposes a lifting of the ban. It is Moreira’s opinion that anyone pushing for the right to own a pit bull is “putting themselves at risk.”
However, in support of the ban lift are the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – and the Dogington Post. Those opposed to such a ban view it as discrimination, limiting the rights of dog owners and the dogs themselves solely based on looks, rather than the personality and demeanor of the individual dogs.
From the Miami Herald:
In Miami-Dade County, owning American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers or any dog substantially conforming to any of these breeds’ characteristics has been illegal since 1989. If these breeds wind up in the county shelter, they are eligible for adoption outside the county; otherwise they can be euthanized.
Six animal enforcement officers follow a checklist to determine whether a dog conforms to the county’s definition of a pit bull. Investigators look for dogs with round and well-set eyes, short and stiff coats, a tail that tapers to a point and a somewhat broad chest, among three dozen other physical characteristics – all details that also could describe other breeds.
The current ban forced Miami Marlins pitcher, Mark Buehrle, and his family to live in neighboring Broward County in order to keep his beloved American Staffordshire Terrier, Slater. Because of the ban, one of Miami’s most favorite Marlins is unable to live in the city that he represents.
Last year in Miami-Dade county, 200 pit bulls were euthanized and about 120 were returned to owners or adopted by individuals or rescue organizations outside Miami-Dade.
How do you think Miami-Dade residents should vote next week? Here’s hoping they make the right decision for the dogs.