Ending BDL in Miami-Dade

December 28, 2011  

A new bill may bring the end to breed discrimination in Miami-Dade County

By Laura Allen, Executive Director of the Animal Law Coalition

A bill has been proposed that could end Miami-Dade County’s longtime ban on pit bull dogs, or dogs that animal control says 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 Oct. 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 Oct. 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: carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov and norman.jim.web@flsenate.gov.

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

No major animal or health organization supports breed discrimination, including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control, among many others.

Breed-discriminatory 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.

BDL 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 video 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. Dr. Voith believes as many as 75 percent 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 BDL are not even "pit bull" breeds. 

BDL is a very costly and 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. 

Photos by Melissa Lipani

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2 Responses to “Ending BDL in Miami-Dade”
  1. OMG the last picture is too cute. Ok now down to business, this wonderful I rejoiced when a fellow volunteer posted this on fb yesterday. I told everyone 2012 is the year of the Pit Bull!! Although you might not live in Florida write a nice and polite letter encouraging these legislators to repeal this law. Provide them with education and awareness we share here and other places, seeing is believing for some folk.

  2. RobinGonzalez says:

    As a native resident of Florida it disgusts me that BSL is still in place here. I am unable to travel with my dogs for fear they would be confiscated. I do not support tourism to any town or state that has BSL in place. I have sent my emails to both the House and Senate and hope that common sense over-rules fear and ignorance. Perhaps if every person that responded to the Today’s Show question sent an email then our Rep’s would start to see that these laws are not what the Majority want and need to be repealed. I do not want my tax dollars used to support legislation that doesn’t work.