Miami-Dade votes to keep pit bull ban because of safety concerns

Last week, Miami-Dade voted against a challenge to a law prohibiting the pit bull dog breed. Many people fear serious personal injuries from bites because some consider pit bulls a vicious breed.

Miami-Dade originally passed the law after a local seven-year-old girl suffered severe injuries from a pit bull attack. The victim, now grown up, expressed relief that the ban remains in place. Voters broke solidly in favor of keeping the ban, with 63 percent voting for it.

This ban is unusual in Florida because it targets only one specific breed. After its enactment, Florida law changed to otherwise prohibit breed-specific bans. The Miami-Dade ban survived this change because it pre-existed the new law.

Some questions exist regarding whether breed-specific bans actually help prevent bite injuries. To begin with, the law only prohibits pit bulls. Dog experts do not necessarily agree that pit bulls are more vicious than other dog breeds. Even if pit bulls are generally more violent than the average dog, other large breeds might be so nearly violent that it makes no sense to discriminate between them. And dog owners may be able to get around the ban by registering a pure-bred pit bull as a mutt instead. Some laws in other areas use broad categorical bans against “vicious breeds” to correct for these problems.

Finally, dog attacks are hard to quantitatively measure. Florida does not maintain breed-specific bite data -even for catastrophic or severe attacks.

Source: Tampa Bay Online, “Vote keeps Miami-Dade pit bull ban in place,” Associated Press, Aug. 15, 2012