Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Politics, Pit Bulls and The Man Behind The Curtain

Commisioner admits ban ineffective

Miami-Dade enacted a ban on pit bulls in 1987. Over the course of the past 25 years the Commissioners have ignored and dismissed the voices of residents across Dade County and specifically within the Miami Metro area. Until now.

Until Representative Carlos Trujillio introduced HB997, a bill that would remove Miami-Dade’s power to leave the ban in effect. The bill has gained traction recently and is scheduled to go before a House Panel tomorrow. Representative Trujillio stated via text messages with Commissioner Esteban Bovo that he would agree to pull his support from the bill if the Commission followed through with adding the ban repeal to the August ballot.

This has advocates from all levels concerned. Miami-Dade has failed to hear pleas for change for more than two-decades. The voice of the people was discounted and rarely heard in years past, the sudden willingness of the Commission to now provide voters the opportunity to make a statement appears nothing short of an attempt to protect the local government’s power over the people.

In 2007 a petition was presented to the Commission by a group of local advocates seeking to have the ban lifted. That petition was ignored and the pleas of the constituents ignored. This was only one of the numerous attempts over the years to have the Commission reconsider their position and review options that have been far more successful than bans.

Only now that Miami-Dade Commissioners are faced with having the State of Florida step in are they willing to back down from their stance. According to Commissioner Sally Heyman, District 4 Representative, Commissioners are now cooperative in allowing the people of Miami to decide the matter because it is hard to enforce. She says that “Due to mix-breed DNA issues and bite number data, the enforcement of the breed ban appears ineffective.” She is concerned that if the people of Miami or the State of Florida repeal the Miami ban the current Dangerous Dog Ordinance must be kept in place and enforced or the ban will have the appearance of being effective.

PBLN asked why, after 23 years of Miami residents speaking out against the ban, Commissioners were willing to put the issue on the ballot, Commissioner Heyman stated ‘Nothing ever formal was presented.” However, a year ago a Circuit Court ruled that Miami’s law violated Due Process. 
When asked what the concerns of the Commission as a whole are for repeal, Heyman stated “This should not be politicized. Eight years ago I looked at this and the sentiment to change wasn’t there. The timing of Florida Legislature and new members of Commission was time to try.”

Miami-Dade supports moving toward a ‘No-Kill’ community, yet refuses to repeal the ban on pit bull type dogs that kills any dog that resembles the breeds commonly identified as ‘pit bulls.’

Ledy VanKavage, Senior Legislative Attorney at Best Friends Animal Society, states, “The Miami-Dade County Commissioners are shirking their duty by using home-rule as a stall tactic to keep killing all pit bull terrier type dogs. All they want to do is kill HB 997 which would give Miami-Dade County residents the same property rights as other Florida residents. They enacted the archaic breed discriminatory provision regarding pit bull terrier type dogs over 20 years ago and they have the power to repeal it but have failed to do so. They say they want to be a "No Kill" community, but they can't do it if they are killing all puppies and dogs that resemble pit bulls. It's unconscionable that they aren't supporting HB 997. They need to follow Ohio's lead and repeal their breed discriminatory law."

While many took action to contact Representative Carlos Trujillio to express their concerns of the Miami-Dade Commissions proposal, Trujillio continues support. Miami-Dade Commissioners were asked by PBLN if they would follow through adding the matter to the August ballot if the bill was dropped, Commissioner Heyman responded, “I hope so.”

HB997 is the last hope for this Legislative Session as its sister bill, SB 1322 was stalled, not killed, by a 4-2 vote in the Senate Budget Committee. HB997 was delayed for a second reading, causing grave concern that Floridians will run out of time this Session and no state level intervention will be accomplished.

People from all around the world are supporting Florida Legislators efforts to quash Miami-Dades ban with a "petition", and Best Friends has provided Florida residents with an on-line "form letter" that can be personalized and sent to their own Representative. 

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