Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Legal Classification of Mixed Breed Pitbulls-Miami

Legal Classification of Mixed Breed Pitbulls - Miami


Scientific or Junk Science?

Working on BDL cases allows me to see inside the procedures used by various cities and counties to classify mixed breed dogs as pitbulls. There is no national training that I have ever seen on visual identification of mixed breed pit bulls.  Nor is there any science that indicates that such identifications are accurate.  In fact, the current science of visual identification shows that shelter personnel are only 25% accurate when judging breed by visual identification. Victoria Voith wrote the article and the information can be seen here. If experts cannot determine mixed breeds by visual identification, how can animal control personnel accurately do so?

But they do. All over the US. The leading case on animal control officers being used to identify pitbulls is Cardelle v. Miami Dade, a case that has been discussed before here.

So what actually happened at the trial in Cardelle v. Miami Dade?  You can read the entire transcript here. Read it and be amazed. The trial transcript will lead you to several conclusions:

  1. The trial process is totally unfair; the fact finder is simply biased [God forbid something happens];
  2. The animal control officer did not make a fair assessment-he looked at the dog from several feet [I didn't want to get that close to it.] and then went out to his truck to fill out the form;
  3. The animal control officer has NEVER had the accuracy of his evaluations confirmed-just because you do a lot of them doesn't mean they are accurate;
  4. The animal control officer is being coy when he says he does not know how many dogs he has classified as pit bulls-he simply does not want anyone to know it is close to 100%;
  5. The animal control officer knows that his evaluations are not scientific, when he refuses to test the accuracy of his background with pictures [I'm not going to speculate.];
  6. The dividing line of 50% is arbitrary-as we know they have changed the percentage now to 70%. 

The attorney representing the Cardelle's clearly had problems with the affidavits from the veterinarians.  Either they refused to say the dog was "predominantly" pit bull as the statute required, or the attorney failed to properly track the statute in creating the affidavits.  This was an important issue, because the judge was allowed to disregard the affidavits because they did not rule out the dog was a mixed breed pit.

Clearly the court was mortified at what happened at the trial level, and attempted to inject some science into what had thus far been a subjective process.  

And that is why they decided Cardelle v. Miami Dade in the manner they did.

The takeaway is that in every case, the government must be required to show there is science behind their classification. If you think Miami Dade is bad, you should see how they do it in Moses Lake, WA. But that is a story for another time.

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