Category Archives: Florida

MIAMI-DADE PASSES DANGEROUS DOG REGISTRY LEGISLATION

We reported that two separate pieces of legislation had been proposed in Miami-Dade and would be voted on Tuesday night.

Officials chose to adopt Commissioner Diaz’s proposed ‘Dangerous Dog Registry’ last night.  The new ordinance increases fines from $500 to $1000 and creates an on-line registry that will allow residents to identify dangerous dogs within their own communities, and permits police officers to take any dog it determines is vicious.

“This is all about being responsible for your animal. I don’t believe in bad dogs, I believe in bad owners,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Diaz.

Commissioner Lynda Bell wasn’t as certain the registry would be as successful, “I just see so many potential problems for abuse in this legislation.  I really appreciate the intent but I have to say that I appreciate the intent.”

Now, when your dog, no matter the breed or type of dog, bites a person or another pet, your dog’s “mug-shot” will be posted on-line along with your address, and a description of how the bite occurred.
According to Alex Munoz, Animal Services Director, “Any action taken can be appealed to a hearing officer”.
 So, we ask….why does Miami-Dade need a pit bull ban?
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MIAMI-DADE, FL – Commissioners Propose Dangerous Dog Registry

Just weeks after Miami-Dade asked the public to decide the fate of the pit bull ban, two Commissioners propose separate bills to change the current dangerous dog ordinance.

Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz has proposed that officials adopt measures to create an online dangerous dog registry that would be available on Animal Services website.  The registry would include mug-shots and a biography of any dog deemed dangerous, would include the circumstances of any attack, and the owners address.  His proposed ordinance would also increase current fines from $500 to $1000, increasing with repeated offenses upward of $2000.  In addition to the dangerous dog changes, Diaz added increased fines for anyone convicted for abusing an animal.

Commissioner Sally Heyman also proposed a change to the current dangerous dog laws that would require owners of dogs designated dangerous to obtain and maintain $50,000 in liability insurance.

Both measures introduced are non-breed-specific.  According to the Miami-Herald “Whether a yippy Chihuahua biting a mail carrier or a regal Great Dane taking a chunk out of a neighbor, whether on the pet owner’s property or at a park, the penalty would be the same.”

Commissioner Heyman supported removing the ban that targets pit bulls.  Diaz opposed removing the ban and strongly interjected when Legislators considered a state law that would have caused the Miami-Dade ban to fall earlier this year.

Animal Services staff members recalled only one case in more than a decade resulting in a court-ordered euthanizing.  Two American Bulldogs that attacked an 80-year-old man causing life-threatening injuries.  More recently a waitress was attacked by a Cane Corso causing severe injuries.

Neither proposed ordinance addresses the current ban or the fact that other dogs are as dangerous as any dog affected by the ban.

Please visit the Miami-Herald article to vote on the poll:

Should dogs that attack people or other pets have their photographs and owner’s address posted on a Miami-Dade County online registry?

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/30/3028075/miami-dade-could-require-online.html#storylink=cpy

 

Tamarac FL – Pit Bull Ordinance Under Fire

According to [Florida] State Code Chapter767 “DAMAGE BY DOGS” Section 14 ‘Additional local restrictions authorized’, local governments are prohibited from enacting regulations specific to breed.  However, the section is not applicable to any local ordinance that was adopted prior to October 1, 1990.

In 1985, Tamarac adopted Section 4-6 Article II – Pit Bull Dogs.  A pit bull is described as any dog that exhibits distinguishing characterstics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or to standards established by the United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers.

This local ordinance made it unlawful for any person to house, maintain or harbor within the city any dog which substantially conforms to the standards unless following strict regulations such as containing the dog within a residence or locked premise such as a totally enclosed and lockable pen, muzzled and on a leash of no greater length than 8 feet; registering the dog and paying an annual fee of $50.00;  and, obtaining a $1,000,000 liability insurance.

Currently Tamarac Talk is suggesting that officials either “Enforce it or Lose it”.

According to the article from September 27th, Tamarac currently has more than  60,000 residents living in the city that is 15 miles north of Miami-Dade County but only five (5) pit bulls are registered.

Residents are suggesting that officials remove the breed-specific restrictions, stating that the ordinance is rarely, if ever, obeyed or enforced.

Tamarac Officials can be contacted with your POLITE, PROFESSIONAL AND INFORMATIVE correspondance at:

Mayor: Beth Talabisco betht@tamarac.org

District 1: Pam Bushnell  Pamela.Bushnell@tamarac.org

District 2: Michelle Gomez Michelle.Gomez@tamarac.org

District 3: Diane Glasser  Diane.Glasser@tamarac.org

District 4: Harry Dressler Harry.Dressler@tamarac.org

Miami-Dade County, FL: Breed ban remains in place after public vote

Miami-Dade County’s longstanding breed ban will remain in place for now. Voters in the August 14 county primaries voted 37% to 63% to keep the ban.

Although at first glance it seems like a disappointing outcome, there’s reason to have hope that the ban will eventually be repealed. To come away with a more positive outlook, we’d like to share with you a brief history of this monumental and unprecedented repeal effort so you can understand where it all began—and where it can go in the future.

The Law

For 23 years, Miami-Dade County has banned “pit bulls” (American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and any dog that looks like one).

Florida state law prohibits municipalities from passing or enforcing BSL. However, the state law grandfathers in (allows) ordinances that were in place prior to October 1, 1990. The state law specifically makes an exception for Miami-Dade’s breed ban.

2012 Legislative Session

Early in the 2012 Florida legislative session, Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Jim Norman filed HB 997 / SB 1322. These bills would have deleted the grandfather clause from state law, removing the special exemption for Miami-Dade and forcing the county to repeal its breed ban.

The bills moved smoothly through the legislative process, clearing several committees, and looked like good candidates for passage.

Miami-Dade County commissioners, most of whom who wanted to keep the breed ban, were very concerned. The commissioners went to the legislature and promised to put the breed ban to a public vote if Trujillo put the brakes on the bill. The bills suddenly lost legislator support and became stalled at various stages.

Public Vote

StopBSL and many other groups were alarmed at the prospect of a public vote on the breed ban. We expected a public vote would not result in repeal (and commissioners doubtless felt the same way) because

  • The public tends to vote with emotions and stereotype, not logic.
  • Miami-Dade residents have not encountered a legally-owned “pit bull” in 23 years. Much of their experience with “pit bulls” is negative.
  • Minority groups—in this case, “pit bull” owners—are at a disadvantage in “majority rules” votes, especially when there is no legal opportunity to dispel stereotypes about the minority group.
  • The people who are most affected by the law—”pit bull” owners—cannot legally live in the county, are not residents, and therefore cannot vote on the fate of the law.
  • County officials and the local news media have strong influence and are supportive of the ban.
  • We predicted the poll question would be biased and confusing.
  • Advocates for repeal had a mere 5 months to overcome all of these embedded and intractable issues.

Indeed, we saw many of these factors come into play over the next several months and throughout the voting period.

Advocates for repeal faced a monumental challenge: to build a coalition, acquire resources, and change public opinion almost overnight. The Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation took up the challenge with everything they had.

The Future

Considering the dire situation, we at StopBSL believe that the public vote results were amazing. Over 80,000 people voted to repeal Miami’s breed ban—one in three voters. MCABSL was also able to raise awareness in the county, unite repeal supporters, and get support from expert groups like the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association.

All this in five months. By contrast, major anti-BSL victories that we celebrated this year in Ohio and Massachusetts took 4+ years (and countless do-overs) to achieve.

Imagine if even a small fraction of those 80,000 people who voted for repeal were to show up at the next Miami-Dade County commissioner meeting. Imagine if those 80,000 Miami-Dade residents—along with all their supporters throughout Florida—contacted their state reps, protested the county’s discriminatory law, asked legislators to refile a bill like HB 997 / SB 1322.

Whether it’s another public vote, another legislative effort to remove Miami-Dade’s grandfather clause, or an effort to vote out pro-ban county commissioners—there are many possibilities to repeal the ban in the future.

However, it can’t be done without YOU. If you live in Florida, especially in or near Miami-Dade, you are a crucial piece of the effort. Please stay united and resolved in your efforts to repeal the breed ban.

Thank You

Many, many thanks to the volunteers and groups, especially MCABSL, who were down in the trenches giving their all for this repeal effort. You accomplished an amazing feat despite the odds, and the support you gained over the last few months will certainly propel you to victory in the future.

Miami-Dade County, FL reminder: Breed ban goes public vote, Aug 14

Absentee ballots and early voting are over and the big day is here. Miami-Dade County will put its longstanding breed ban to a public vote on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

The ballot question is: “Shall the ordinance repealing the county’s 23 year old law prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?”

VOTE YES on #500.

Read an eloquent letter from the Miami Coalition Against BSL director here.

Best of luck in Miami-Dade!

All alerts for Miami-Dade County: https://stopbsl.org/?s=%22miami-dade+county%22

East Coast bike relay event to protest BSL, Aug 29–Sept 2

Bless the Bullys Pit Bull Rescue & Education and Southern Ontario Animal Rescue (SOAR) invite you to take part in a unique effort to bring awareness to breed specific legislation, rescue, and responsible dog ownership.

Bikers and Bullys Without Borders” is a bike ride from Miami, Florida to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is an effort to demonstrate a united stance against BSL. Just as BSL has no borders, the effort to stop it knows no borders, as well.

The ride is taking place from August 29 to September 2, 2012. It starts in Miami, FL and goes up the east coast finishing in Toronto, Canada.

We are dedicating the ride to Lennox and the Barnes family, the people who loved and fought to save his life. After a two year battle, Lennox was killed last week by the Belfast, Ireland council simply because he looked like a “pit bull.” We are having a stuffed Lennox made, and along each stop on the route, he will be handed off to the next group of riders, along with any notes of condolence and support to the Barnes family. After the ride, both the stuffed Lennox and all the cards and letters will be sent to the Barnes family to show that although we are separated by thousands of miles, we stand united with them in their fight, and we all mourn the death of an innocent animal.

You don’t need to be part of an animal welfare organization to take part in the ride…you only need to have a desire to see BSL come to an end so that no dog and no family ever face the heartbreak and anguish of breed specific legislation again.

SOAR is organizing the troops for a vote on the Ontario pit bull ban in September, and using the bike rally as a fundraiser for their efforts to end BSL there. However, those taking parts in the states can simply use the ride to bring awareness to the fight against BSL, and to promote rescue and responsible dog ownership.

We need every leg of the ride filled – even if its just one bike – so that Lennox and our messages to the family can make it to Canada. Please consider taking part in this very special event, and share this with your friends and bike clubs who may be interested in taking part. Just like the effort to stop BSL, we really need YOU to make this happen!

More information on the ride can be found at the SOAR website, or you can contact me at jodi@blessthebullys.com. The route for the ride can be found here.

Miami-Dade County, FL reminder: To repeal breed ban, residents must register to vote by July 16

The Miami-Dade County, FL, breed ban will go to a public vote on August 14, 2012. Registered voters in Miami-Dade County will be able to vote whether to keep or repeal the county’s longstanding “pit bull” ban.

If you are a resident of Miami-Dade, please make sure you are registered to vote in Miami-Dade by July 16. If you’re not a registered voter, you won’t be able to vote in August.

How do I register to vote?
http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/how_register.asp

All alerts for Miami-Dade County: https://stopbsl.org/?s=miami