UPDATE: After residents voted on Tuesday, pit bulls remain outlawed in Miami-Dade county. Of the 20 percent of registered voters who showed up to the polls yesterday, 63 percent voted to keep the 23-year-old ban on pit bull-type dogs. 
(ANIMAL NEWS) FLORIDA — Residents in Miami-Dade county voted today on whether to repeal a 23-year-old law banning pets that resemble pit bulls. While experts and animal advocates say that pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other dog, proponents of the law say that the canines post a threat to public safety. We hope that Miami-Dade joins the rest of Florida in repealing the breed discrimination law and not blame pit bulls for the actions of irresponsible guardians. Read on for more on the county’s arguments over pet legislation. — Global Animal
Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Mother Nature Network, Laura Moss

Miami-Dade County voters will decide on Aug. 14 whether to repeal a ban on pit bulls that was passed in 1989 after the mauling of a 7-year-old girl.

Animal advocates say the ban was passed out of fear and emotion after Melissa Moreira was attacked. However, Moreira, now 31, wants the ordinance to remain on the books.

“I think that if I were bit by a poodle, I wouldn’t have had to have eight major reconstructive plastic surgeries,” Moreira told the Associated Press. Moreira’s face still bears scars from the attack.

Under the current law, owners of American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and bull terriers face a $500 fine and court action to force the removal of the dog from the county.

Pit bulls are supposed to be identified based on physical descriptions from the American Kennel club, including traits like short coats, broad chests and tails that taper to a point — details that Kathy Labrada, enforcement manager for Miami-Dade Animal Services, says are “subjective.” In fact, in 2009 a court ruled that the county’s law was vague and unenforceable. 

If the ban is repealed, the county will join the rest of Florida, which prohibits breed-specific laws. Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban was grandfathered in.

The county commission put the measure on the ballot after state lawmakers rejected a bill that would have outlawed breed-specific legislation in Florida. Now, pit bull advocates like Miami Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle are hoping to overturn the ban.

Buehrle made headlines in December when he was acquired by the Miami Marlins and his family had to buy a home in neighboring Broward County so they could keep their pit bull, Slater. Since then, Buehrle and his wife, Jamie — who says the law is “discrimination” — have been working to educate people about pit bulls and the upcoming vote.

But proponents of the law argue that the dogs are dangerous.

Moreira told the Associated Press that people pushing to own pit bulls are “just putting themselves at risk. They’re not taking into account what might happen.”

About 3,000 dog bites are reported to Miami-Dade Animal Services annually, but the agency doesn’t break the data down by breed and there’s no national agency that collects dog bite information.

Although there are several websites dedicated to breed-specific legislation and the dangers of pit bulls, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals all oppose such laws.

A recent AVMA report says that although pit bulls’ size and strength make their attacks more dangerous, this also applies to other large dogs. The organization goes on to say that pit bulls are no more prone to biting than other breeds, including German shepherds, Rottweilers, St. Bernards, Jack Russell terriers and collies.

“Restrictions placed on a specific breed fail to address the larger problems of abuse, aggression training and irresponsible dog ownership,” according to a statement from the Humane Society. “Breed alone is not an adequate indicator of a dog’s propensity to bite.”

The Human Society argues for responsible dog-keeping laws in place of breed-specific legislation.

More Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/miami-dade-to-vote-on-lifting-pit-bull-ban




  1. and now because of the continued support of these monsters of the dog world, i will end my contributions to ASPCA and HSUS. i have been in rescue for many years, and they are the only breed i will not take into my home to foster. these dogs can take down a grown man in seconds, and end his life. there are too many pit attacks & maulings to count. the shelters are full of them, and people are now seeing the damage they can do. i live in denver and i am thrilled to not be chased by frothing pit bulls anymore in atlanta & san diego. there are 400+ breeds to choose from, plus mixed breeds. these creatures are a lawsuit waiting to happen. they are always described as 'poor, misunderstood animals,' but you change your mind when you witness the killing.

  2. Here’s a revolutionary idea; how about we ban all the Cubans from Miami? Not politically correct, you say? Well neither is a ban on any one breed of dog! I spent my formative years in south Florida, so glad I don’t live there anymore. Anyone who voted for this ban in the first place and/or voted to keep it are hypocrites.

    To Ms. Moreira,
    What punishment, if any, was doled out to the owner of this dog? Was any consideration given to how this dog was raised and treated? It makes more sense to have tougher laws punishing the owners, to enforce these laws, and to educate people. Pit Bulls are not inherently dangerous; they have to be trained to be a killer. And yes, I do know this first hand. My cats beat up on my American Bulldog almost daily, and they get away with it because she wouldn’t hurt a fly. For that matter, my neighbors’ dogs (about 9 in all, only one a Pit, and all but 2 smaller than her) scare the you-know-what out of her when they bark at her. If someone were to break in to my house my Yellow Lab is more likely to do damage to the intruder. I understand your experience was traumatic but let’s use some common sense here. The one dog who attacked me was a Black Lab Cocker mix; if he been taller and his owner not so quick to pull him off of me he probably would have done as much damage to me. Oh, and he was neglected by his owners, ignored 99.9 percent of the time.

  3. This is sad why can’t pitbull be Legal 🙁 it brakes my heart to see the dog that I went I can’t have that’s not the only dog that u made see fighting human put dogs bird alot more
    That just not fair for those pit is not there fought …

  4. Let’s hope Florida can finally get one thing right. Dogs are just like people; a product of their environment. If you treat them well and provide them the few things they need (food,shelter,love,and attention) you will have a loyal companion. I don’t know for sure but I bet it’s pretty safe to assume that pitbulls have protected/saved a person in danger 10X more than they have hurt anyone. It’s ok to have venomous snakes or extremely large constricting snakes but not a pitbull? There is no way for us to remove every danger that exists in our world. Your more likely to be murdered by your spouse than a pitbull but so far hetero marriage has not been banned. I’m praying that Florida is going to lead by example and drop the ban on (wo)man’s best friend.