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Legislative Update: Potential Good News for ‘Pit Bulls’ in Florida and Ohio

Summer is typically a less active time of year for new legislation to be proposed or enacted, as many legislative bodies are not in session during the summer months. However, there is a bit of news to report on the legislative front.

On July 25, 2012, the American Dog Owners Association reported that the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association has urged citizens to vote to end breed-specific legislation in the Miami-Dade County primary election on Aug. 14.

The ban on owning “American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers or any mix thereof” has been in effect in Miami-Dade County since 1989. In a session held at the Downtown Bay Forum on Wednesday, June 26, 2012, citizens were encouraged to air their views in favor of keeping or repealing the ban. According to the local news organization local10.com, no one spoke out in favor of keeping the law.

Florida’s Miami-Dade County has had a ban on specific dog breeds since 1989. Neighboring Broward County has no such restrictions.

The Florida veterinary association cited a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association when it stated, “BSL is based on the idea that breed restrictions of any kind will result in increased community safety, which they have never done, wherever they have been implemented.” The April 2012 study by the AVMA analyzed 40 years of dog bite studies from North America and Europe, and concluded that BSL “does not increase community safety.”

Other reasons that the Florida association is in favor of overturning the ban are the high cost to taxpayers for enforcing the law and the increase in euthanasia rates created when the banned breeds are unable to be adopted by local residents.

The city of Newark, Ohio, is currently considering removing pit bulls from its “vicious dog” list. Ohio state law recently saw changes that base a vicious dog label on an animal’s behavior instead of its breed, a move that BSL opponents have long advocated with their “judge the deed, not the breed” campaign.

Although Newark Mayor Jeff Hall has said that he is “inclined to keep the city regulation,” several residents have requested that the city change its ordinance to that of the new state law.

I failed to mention in my last biweekly Legislative Update that the limit law proposed in Ballston Spa, N.Y., was rejected by the village board earlier this month. The law would have limited residents to keeping five or fewer dogs on their property, whether or not they were owned by the resident.

We also urge readers to sign the AKC petition and submit their comments regarding changes to the USDA Animal Welfare Act before the Aug. 15 deadline. You can learn all the details about the proposed policy changes via an informative fact sheet prepared by the USDA or on the AKC USDA/APHIS Regulations Resource Page.

Watch Best In Show Daily every other Sunday for our biweekly updates on current legislation pending around the country. AKC also posts regular reports in its Legislative Alerts section online.

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.
  • Maryann Ribb August 28, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    I really believe that breed specific legislation ought to be prohibited. A dog being vicious isn’t based on the breed, but on who brought up the puppy, as well as for what purpose.

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