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Pit-Bull Blood Money:
Why Breed-Specific Bans Don’t Work

| February 18, 2012

Pit bulls want their rights. (pwcorgigirl)

By Susan Clary

After a young girl was mauled by a pit bull terrier in 1989, Miami-Dade banned the breed. And before long, the county shelter was destroying thousands of dogs, stray and owner-loved, that bore a resemblance to the pit bull.

Miami-Dade is not alone. A wave of breed-specific legislation swept the nation, targeting beloved dogs with a broad brush that public-health experts now agree doesn’t work and isn’t appropriate.

In fact, a year after Miami-Dade passed the pit-bull ban, the state of Florida made it illegal to discriminate against dogs because of their breed, but gave Miami-Dade an exemption. Now, for the first time in 23 years, two bills are moving through the Legislature to remove this exemption.

Yet for reasons that appear to include money, Miami-Dade Commissioners are fighting hard to keep the ban.

They met Tuesday night, determined to stall a Tallahassee vote that could lead to the ban’s demise. Instead, they suggested the question be put to voters in August, when few voters turn out.

Better these commissioners allow the repeal to go forward, given all that we know about the failure of these bans.

In the interests of full disclosure, I run a small-breed dog rescue in Orlando and serve on the board of the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation. In other words, I know something about this issue.

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What you should know is that these bans are ineffective and fraught with unfair consequences. Research by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shows breed-specific bans do not improve public safety. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control discourages such bans because of the inaccuracy in dog-bite data, the difficulty in identify dog breeds and the endless, needless slaughter.

Besides, other laws exist to deal with dangerous dogs.

So why do Miami-Dade commissioners so badly want to preserve the ban? Why, in the middle of their meeting, were two commissioners text-messaging the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, asking him to withdraw the legislation?

It’s about money, pure and simple.

Miami-Dade stands to lose millions of dollars in fines and penalties if the ban is lifted. Call it: pit bull blood money.

Here’s how it works: If you’re caught with a pit bull in Miami-Dade, you’re fined $500. If you don’t quickly appeal or surrender the animal, that fine increases to $10,500 after 51 days. If you fail to pay, a lien can be placed on your home, even if you’re just renting. To sell the house, the owner must pay the lien.

Between 2009-2011, records show this scheme added more than $1.7 million to Miami-Dade’s bottom line.

During that same time, the county killed more than 1,000 dogs judged to be pit bulls, many taken from their families.

People don’t want to see innocent dogs killed. And experience shows sweeping breed-specific laws don’t work.

The Florida Legislature should do the right thing for good dogs and good owners. Lift the ban.

And rather than focusing on fines and liens, Miami-Dade should establish a strong spay-neuter policy, strengthen its anti-tethering ordinance and crack down on owners who keep dogs, not as pets, but for fighting, guarding and image enhancement.

It’s time to end the shameful slaughter of innocent dogs.

Lift the ban.

Formerly a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and Orlando Sentinel, Susan Clary is a freelance writer in Orlando. She can be reached here.

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29 Responses for “Pit-Bull Blood Money:
Why Breed-Specific Bans Don’t Work”

  1. Marion Blohm via Facebook says:

    so it was just Miami that did that wow

  2. Linda says:

    For anyone who thinks that Pits are all dangerous, I would recommend you visit the Flagler Humane Society, where you will find some of the most loving Pit Bulls you have ever seen.

    A Pit must be trained to be vicious and the same applies to just about any breed. It is too bad they have become identified with drug houses.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yeah they are all so great like the ones on Farraday lane biting everyone!

      • Layla says:

        If anyone is being bitten, you need to call animal control asap.

        Gia, I agree with Craig Bush think more studies needs to be done.

        6 million were once exterminated along the same lines before anybody stopped the killing.

      • onlyme says:

        Pits that are brought up in a loving home, treated correctly and trained the are about as dangerous as new born puppy. There are no such thing as a bad dog just bad owners. Like all dogs we have leash laws here in PC. Call and report the owners, you may find out more than you care to as to why these pits are biting.

    • Jen says:

      I agree that anyone can visit the FHS and see numerous “loving” Pit Bulls, waiting to be adopted. I agree that it is indeed sad. However, a Pit does not need to be trained to be vicious. I used to believe that, too. I used to believe there is no such thing as a ‘bad breed’ only ‘bad owners’. Not true. People who are going to take on the responsibility of owing Pit Bulls need to take a whole lot of time to educate themselves on pitts, on how pitts react to and with other animals, and with small children especially in the presence of food. The owner must be able to master extreme control over the animal at all times. Pitts are not at all like other domesticated pet dogs. They have genetic predispositions, just like any other human or animal that possesses genetic material. And a unique ability to kill things.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just adopted a pit from flagler county humane society . she is very lovable.

    • James Cullen says:

      Your sentimental though your heart may be in the right place. This breed should be totally wiped out period! Three facts I will lay before you to keep this simple.

      1. The American pitbull terrier is responsible for more then 47% of all dog attacks in the united states! That is more then twice the number of attacks then any other breed.

      2. They have caused more fatalities of both humans and dogs then any other breed and are especially fond of attacking smaller children due to their size and stature.

      3. They have been specifically bred for fighting for over 115 years. That genetic instinct can not been nurtured out of a dogs lifespan no matter how many times you cuddle with it. That genetic switch will always be there and how it is turned on is not under your control.

      This doesn’t mean that every pit bull is a danger but it does mean that the breed has a whole is.
      The sooner this nasty breed is wiped out the better .

  3. Sue Oconnor via Facebook says:

    We have a pit and she is intelligent, good natured,full of love

  4. Jen says:

    Instead of banning pitts, Miami-Dade could have a “dangerous dog registry” as an option, along with their beloved fee for owning one. Anyone who knows anything about pitt bulls knows that they need to be the ‘only pet’ in the house, and are unpredictable at best around other pets and small children, no matter how gently and lovingly they’ve been raised, and how responsible the owner is about having them neutered at the proper age. Posting proper warning signs, taking a mandatory “Pitt Bull Owner’s 101” class (for which they pay of course), and other ongoing safety measures could solve both Miami-Dade’s beloved source of revenue and lift the ban on certain pets, while keeping everyone and the pets safe.

  5. Barb Hartman Witt via Facebook says:

    Yeah my friend had two of them. Raised them with her beagle. They lived in the same household for seven years. (at least). Loving dogs…we’d lay on them watching tv on her couch. Then one day her son came home and the two pits had ripped the beagle to pieces. Literally. She was cleaning her dog off her walls and windows.

  6. roco says:

    If Flagler Humane has so many Pit Bulls how did they get there?? Do they just walk in the front door?? Pit Bulls are killers and should never be allowed to breed and live outside a cage..

  7. Anonymous says:

    What’s funny is these people claiming they have been bitten by a game bred Pit Bull, meaning one bred to do nothing but fight or do damage. You wouldn’t be around to tell your story if true that’s why it’s called a Pit Bull, a pit fighter and that’s not what you were bit by. The label Pit Bull is too much of a loose name. Even all that happened with Michael Vick out of close to 30 or 40 Pits all but one or two got placed in loving homes.

  8. Craig Brush via Facebook says:

    We can target Pit Bulls? So bred specific cleansing and sterilization is now acceptable? I am interested on the real numbers regarding just how much of a problem we are talking about. There was a (self-proclaimed) Jewish woman on the radio on Thursday going on about targeting pitbulls and I couldn’t help but see the irony of the statement “Never Again”

  9. Gia says:

    That race should be exterminated. They are vicious dogs.

  10. roco says:

    Your comments concernig this subject that Pit Bulls are killers are mine also.. There is another article about Pit Bulls just ahead of this one on Flagler Live.. Your comments would be supportive if sent to the article and the people who are defending these killer dogs..

  11. FlaglerNative says:

    Statistics don’t lie.If pitbulls aren’t so bad then why is it that everytime I go on the FHS website they list ALL of the pitbulls under terrier as the first breed name when they are clearly a pitbulls? Or they sometimes list them as Labradors. All Humane Societies know about this breeds background these dogs were NOT bred to be loving household pets. They have strong muscular bodies designed to do anything possible to kill or mutilate bulls/livestock. These animals are little powerhouses they aren’t lapdogs or family pets, anyone who thinks otherwise is just fooling themselves…They “snap” they all snap at some point is just a matter of when and on who.

    If you haven’t researched the breed and your believeing what your told your no more than a lamb to the slaughter so do your homework. Happy reading:

    2011 statistics

    31 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2011. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 650 U.S. cities, pit bulls led these attacks accounting for 71% (22). Pit bulls make up less than 5% of the total U.S. dog population.2

    Notably in 2011, adult victims of fatal pit bull attacks more than doubled the number of child victims. Of the 22 total pit bull victims, 68% (15) fell between the ages of 32 to 76, and 32% (7) were ages 5 years and younger.
    The year 2011 also marks an increase in pet pit bulls killing their owners. Of the 8 total instances this year in which a family dog inflicted fatal injury to its primary caretaker, the dog’s owner, 88% (7) involved pet pit bulls.
    Together, pit bulls (22) and rottweilers (4), the number two lethal dog breed, accounted for 84% of all fatal attacks in 2011. In the 7-year period from 2005 to 2011, this same combination accounted for 73% (156) of the total recorded deaths (213).
    The breakdown between pit bulls and rottweilers is substantial over this 7-year period. From 2005 to 2011, pit bulls killed 127 Americans,3 about one citizen every 20 days, versus rottweilers, which killed 29; about one citizen every 88 days.
    Annual data from 2011 shows that 58% (18) of the attacks occurred to adults (21 years and older) and 42% (13) occurred to children (11 years and younger). Of the children, 62% (8) occurred to ages 1 and younger.
    2011 data also shows that 39% (12) of the fatal incidents involved more than one dog; 26% (8) involved breeding on the dog owner’s property either actively or in the recent past, and 6% (2) involved tethered dogs, down from 9% in 2010 and 19% in 2009.
    Dog ownership information for 2011 shows that family dogs comprised 65% (20) of the attacks that resulted in death; 74% (23) of all incidents occurred on the dog owner’s property and 29% (9) resulted in criminal charges, up from 15% in 2010.
    The states of California and Texas led fatalities in 2011, each with 4 deaths; pit bulls and their mixes contributed to 88% (7) of the 8 deaths. North Carolina, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia each incurred 2 deaths.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The problem is Pit Bull is too Broad a term. It should be case by case. the wrong kind of people gravitate to what they believe is a Man-stopper or Guard dog and when they don’t get the results they want, they began to manipulate and draw out the strengths of the dog and when they can’t control it or allow crazy people to walk their dogs, than bad things will happen. ANY DOG WITH TEETH and some without WILL BITE!

  13. Jen says:

    You may be right in that any dog with teeth may bite, just like a cat with claws will scratch. But there’s a reason why certain “breeds” of the big cats aren’t allowed to be house pets. Could they be tamed? Some claim so. A lab or german shepherd may “bite”, a poodle or chiuauau (sp?) may bite, but as one poster noted, when the barrell-chested, large-jawed, red-nosed type “Pitt-Bull” one day literally snaps, something is triggered in this animal to kill, and it’s not how they’ve been raised. They could be the sweetest, most gentle, loving, able to ‘go fetch’, lying on the floor watching tv with the whole family – however one wants to defing “gentle”, and then one day for some reason, this dog will perceive a weakness, and will snap. (I’m not saying 100% of all Pit Bulls will, but the chance is). Whether the weakness is another animal, such as the beagle described above, a small child, an elderly man or woman who has owned and cared for the animal it’s whole life, it’s a weakness , and my best guess is, the animal sees that weaker one as a competitor for food. Nevermind that the Pitt is well fed. Part of why it has survived for so long has been eliminating competitors for food.

    • Anonymous says:

      @JEN: So after every so-called Pit Bull is dead and gone, what’s the next breed to wipe out. Do your your research – Read the books PIT BULLS & tenacious guard dogs and The World Of Fighting Dogs, same author Dr. Carl Semenic. You don’t know half the dogs people own around here that fly under the radar. So-called Pits don’t even have the strongest bite, that little terrier in them that people may manipulate may be all that’s needed to push them over the edge. I guess everyone forgot about this case.
      Don’t get caught up in the hype next week it will be another breed and there’s about ten of them that people just can’t afford yet..

  14. Anonymous says:

    @FlaglerNative: That may be true if you can define what a Pit Bull is. No doubt these dogs have the ability to do damage because of their strength and determination. but this genocidal mentality thing ain’t cutt’in it!
    Since you go by FlaglerNative, tell us what a catch dog is? and what it does? and what is it capable of doing, to a hog, a person a Chevy truck or whatever? Those dogs serve a purpose to a lot of people but in the wrong hands or mistreated – in the words of J.J from Good Times – DYNA – MITTTEEE!!!

  15. just me says:

    the ONLY reason we see so many of this breed in the news is because they are a large breed dog,now if a GSD or a lab or anything else were to bite or maul some one we would see that too.

    Flaglernative: ALL dogs that are bought into ANY shelter even a Chihuahua HAS to go threw a screening to be sure that the dog is safe to be around humans and dogs rabbits or even pet birds as well as food aggression.Do you REALLY think that the FHS wants the news crew surrounding their building if the adopt out a dog (or cat) that would maul a child or anyone else for that matter???? SERIOUSLY!!!!

    perhaps we should also ban humans as well,after all we are all going around killing one another…

  16. Jen says:

    @Anonymous: If you read my earlier post, I have not advocated for genocide or trying to eliminate this or any other breed. I’m in favor of education for owners of the very powerful breeds and ensuring that their owners understand how to handle and control them, have liability insurance in place, and post proper sinage that such an animal is on the property. Anyone who owns an animal that is capable of killing a human needs to be responsible for it, just like people need to be responsible with gun ownership. Don’t ban them, but own them wisely, not recklessly.

  17. FlaglerNative says:

    @Anonymous..At what point in my post did I say pitbull genocide was the answer?? If you knew anything about the breed than you wouldn’t have posted here. There truthfully is NO SUCH THING as the term coined “Pit Bull.” Here’s a bit of history here folks..(given by a redneck) Pit Bulls are really “American Stadforshire Terriers.” From Stadforshire England, they were bred with a level head able to bring back livestock and defend the families that owned them. Nowadays,there is also two hybrid versions that you all have probably heard of “Red nosed Pit” and “Blue nosed pits”. Red nosed pits are what the maniacs use for dog fighting they are more aggresive, they have more muscle and they are waaaay more unpredictable which is what the losers want. Blue nose pits are a joke, as well they are actually a product of incest. You would have to breed together a mom and son, father and daughter, or a brother and sister to get this “desired color”. WHO in their right mind would WANT to have interbreeding?? Needless to say, if you go to a Humane Society anywhere and buy what you think is a perfect “American Stadfordshire Terrier” your not getting one. This dogs breed has been so diluted by fools that you CAN’T get a real “pit bull” with a level personality anymore unless your willing to spend big bucks and get an AKC registered “American Stadfordshire Terrier”.
    I don’t want to kill any dogs. It’s just that HUMANS have screwed up the gene pool, these dogs thanks to man has personalities that nobody can predict, alot of them are born from incest, cmon’ you know thats going to mess with the overall breeding stock gimme’ a break…For any of you on here to take up for a breed that NONE of you know anything about is useless. Why don’t you all stop posting on here and do some homework….because the way I see it…nobody on here has used so much as their breed specific name.

    @just me…ok ok dogs go through screening..LOL did you ever stop to think a dog off his territory in a strange place, with strangers WON’T normally bite. It’s true look it up. Only on occasion will a dog be food aggresive or otherwise in an evaluation at a dog shelter..NEW FLASH, the Humane Societies in America are in the business to MAKE MONEY, as long as the dog doesn’t show aggression at the evaluation then they are put in a kennel and adopted out. Are you seriously telling me that you would let your son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter roll on top of a dog, or pull it’s tail (which all kids will do) based on a Humane societies 10 minute evaluation?????? If your willing to put your trust in them then your really demented.
    Bottom Line:Educate Yourselves about the REAL breed before you buy.
    Buy from a reputable breeder stop giving humane soceities your money for animals you know nothing about just because the price is right.
    And think before you buy. If the dog is in the Humane Society then it’s pretty obvious that someone didn’t want him for some reason…he or she did something to get there. Some are surrendered for valid reasons but….just look at how many as you all call them “pit bulls” are sitting in the shelters and you don’t have ANY idea where or who they came from.
    Not following these above mentioned reasons is why children and adults get their faces ripped off and worse.
    ( How’s it feel to get schooled by a redneck??)

  18. Anonymous says:

    @Jen: The problem is, any animal can kill a person. Like I said there are tons Man-Stopping dogs that get classified as PIT BULL when they don’t even fall into that breed but that attack gets placed on a Pit bull. It sells.

    • Anonymous says:

      @FlaglerNative: DO SOMEMORE REASEARCH.! “American Staffordshire Terriers.” weren’t even the original PIT BUll. That was the gentleman’s version of the PIT BULL. All these other breeds are nothing but watered down versions due to the fact bull-baiting was outlawed in England the original died off. Now tell us what is a catch dog or hog dog or whatever you want to call it? I’ll tell YOU! It’s a Bulldog mixed with various Terrier breeds to get the desired traits that are useful to ones needs. American Bulldogs used to be called Pit Bull Dogs polotics forced the name change such as with all the other creative names that are now tossed around. Blue Nose, Red Nose, is nothing but a description. You said it all “the gene pool is so messed up you can’t get a real Pit Bull”! You made my point as they say in the good ole south ” I rek’in these ain’t real Pits we token bout’

  19. That guy says:

    Many of you have never even owned a pit bull so how are you going to comment about their demeanor? Let me guess it’s something that you’ve heard or read about? Many of you sound like Nazi Germany. Because a Muslim commits a terrorist act are all Muslims bad? Dont judge a whole race on one individuals actions.

  20. Flaglernative says:

    [Comment deleted. Please don’t lecture our commenters about their spelling. Address the issues issues. Thanks.–FlaglerLive]

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