RHODE ISLAND: We received news from the Defenders of Animals that the Senator who introduced legislation in Rhode Island to create statewide restrictions on pit bull type dogs has officially withdrawn his bill from the Senate. The companion House Bill has also been withdrawn. With all the opposition to this bill it was destined to not proceed but it is always nice to see legislators respond to the concerns of their constituents with action.
With the outcry of opposition from Rhode Island residents there is bound to be some positive legislative action in the future for breed specific laws. Congratulations Rhode Island for making your voices heard.
The sponsor had said his intention was to start a conversation and get the attention of national organizations to get help for their town. They are receiving the help that they needed to form a breed neutral law to better protect the community.
BROWARD COUNTY FLORIDA: Commissioner Barbara Sharief had planned on trying to approach the state legislature in Florida to ask for permission to pass a pit bull ban. Sharief had cited concerns from her district about “pit bulls” that had been dumped from neighboring Miami-Dade as the reason for the action.
Initially, Sharief said she knew there would be a backlash but there was more support for a breed ban than opposition. At this weeks commission meeting, however, Sharief was proven wrong when the meeting was packed with opponents to the measure. 60 people spoke at the meeting with the vast majority of those against any breed specific law. One commissioner said when he stopped keeping track of the e-mails he received about this issue there were over 1,000 against it and only 11 for. Sharief subsequently pulled the motion from committee.
A couple of very important things to note about the meeting. When the other commissioners spoke about the measure most said they would not support any request to go to the state to try to institute a breed discriminatory measure in the future. One Councilor spoke very clearly about their support for the state law prohibiting breed specific laws. They noted that the issues they are having is because of Miami’s ban and that it would be bad for the community as a whole to allow towns to decide on their own if they want a breed specific law.
Another important thing to note is that Commissioner Sharief showed very clearly that she is willing to listen to the community and respond. She is now working with advocates and animal groups to find a solution to the issues Broward County is having. It does not matter that we disagree with law makers, we must always engage in a respectful dialogue. When people behave with a lack of respect for law makers they become less likely to listen to what is being said. Always be polite, be professional and be respectful with all communications with legislators.