BSL: Breed Law

Miami Pit Bull Ban Forces Marlins Pitcher To Live Elsewhere

The dog-loving pitcher for the Miami Marlins, Mark Buehrle, and his family can’t call Miami-Dade County home because of breed-specific legislation that prevents the family’s beloved American Staffordshire Terrier from residing there.  The 23-year old ban nearly cost the team it’s star player when the pit bull ban forced the Marlins pitcher to live elsewhere.

Elinor Brecher of the Miami Herald reported in her story that Mark Buehrle and his entire family have happily located their family in nearby Broward County, where no such breed discrimination exists.

Pit Bull Ban Forces Miami Marlins Pitcher To Relocate

The Miami Marlins really wanted left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle.

But a member of his family isn’t welcome in Miami-Dade County.

Eighteen-month-old Slater Buehrle is an American Staffordshire Terrier — a type of pit bull — and keeping one is illegal in Miami-Dade.

So Mark Buehrle, who signed a four-year, $58 million contract in December, is settling his family elsewhere.

Dedicated animal advocates, Mark and Jamie also have three Vizslas: Diesel, Drake and Duke, and human children Braden, 4, and Brooklyn, 2.

Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban, enacted in 1989, declared American Staffordshires, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers dangerous and outlawed them, along with mixes that display certain of the breeds’ characteristics.

Controversial from start, the ban is under attack by groups fighting breed-specific legislation in Miami-Dade and dozens of other jurisdictions around the country.

One Miami lawmaker is proposing a bill this legislative session that would result in reversing Miami-Dade’s ban on pit bulls.

“It really is breed discrimination,” state Rep. Carlos Trujillo said of current law, “and it ends up with people lying, or people just killing these dogs.”

Breed advocates say that irresponsible, sometimes abusive humans are to blame when pit bulls turn vicious because the dogs are friendly and loyal by nature.

Breed foes say that pit bulls kill or maim more people than any other type of dog. In statistics just released, DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims’ group, said that pits were responsible for 22 of the 31 fatal dog attacks in the United States in 2011, “despite only comprising about 5 percent of the total U.S. dog population.’’

But Mark Buehrle believes “it’s kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it. Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it’ll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.’’

Mark Buehrle grew up with cats, rabbits and fish, but got his first dog with Jamie. They married in 2005 and are spokespeople for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which accepted 22 of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s pit bulls.

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison in 2007 for running an illegal dog-fighting operation at his Bad Newz Kennels in Virginia.

Buehrle, 32, said that “if it came down to not finding a house’’ where all his canines could live, he might not have signed with the Marlins, “but I knew we’d eventually find a place.’’

They did, in a south Broward development without the restrictions that some Broward homeowners’ associations impose.

Training starts for Mark Buehrle on Feb. 22. Jamie Buehrle said she’s already talking to the team about programs to help animals similar to one the White Sox — Buehrle’s former team — supported. Sox for Strays features adoptable animals at one home game per month.

Jamie pulled Slater from a shelter on behalf of an animal rescue group which planned to put him up for adoption.

But Slater, so called because he is slate blue, was so loveable that the family kept him.

“It doesn’t occur to him that someone won’t like him,’’ she said.

Miami Herald staff writer Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.

Read Elinor’s article in its entirety here. What do you think of the pit bull ban that forced the Miami Marlins pitcher to live elsewhere? Do you agree with breed specific bans, like the one in Miami-Dade county, or do you believe (as I do) that there are no bad breeds, just bad handlers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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