Tag Archives: vote

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at first glance it seems like a disappointing outcome, there’s reason to have hope that the ban will eventually be repealed.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: 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?

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

Nov. 3 is Election Day

Don’t forget to vote!

Our lawmakers, who decide whether or not to pass breed-specific legislation, are elected to positions of power by “we the people.”

Although this is an off-year for many of us, some areas are voting lawmakers in and out of office.

Do you know where your local lawmakers stand on BSL? Are they up for re-election this year?
Do you know what issues are being voted on this year?

The method for getting the answers to these questions is a little bit different from place to place, but you can almost always get a starting point with a simple Google query like “2009 elections [your state]”.

You may need to personally call or e-mail incumbents and their opponents to find out whether they support BSL; this issue isn’t usually covered in standard media interviews.

Feel free to post your lawmakers’ feelings about BSL here (don’t forget to include their name and location).

Mashpee, MA: Voters reject proposed “pit bull” ban

Voters put leash on pit bull restrictions

October 20, 2009

MASHPEE — There was a collective sigh of relief among dog owners at Mashpee High School last night after residents resoundingly voted down a proposed pit bull bylaw at the annual fall town meeting.[…]

Full article retrieved 10/20/09 from http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091020/NEWS/910200315