It’s something you never have to think about, until you move to a pit bull banned area where suddenly you’re faced with the prospect of your dog’s resemblance to this "evil" breed. 

It’s a big problem here in Miami. Plenty of my new clients––relocated for work, school, family proximity, etc.––find their dogs the target of one the most backward laws on the books anywhere. 

So you know, it’s not just pit bulls who come up against the ban here in Miami-Dade County. It’s any dog that even modestly resembles a pit. Here, any dog determined to be even 1/4 pit bull gets the axe––unless the dog is moved outside the county line. 

So who decides whether a dog is a pit bull or not? Well, that’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Here in Miami the decision lies in the hands of the one Animal Services employee we call the "pit bull czar." If in his "expert" opinion the dog is significantly pitty, the dog is automatically treated to a "three strikes you’re out" procedure. 

First it’s a $500 fine, then a $1,000 fine. After that it’s light’s out––as in, euthanasia. 

But when it comes right down to it, this is an extremely arbitrary decision making process. I’ve seen a small, Boston terrier mix flagged as a pit. I’ve seen an American bulldog cited because the owners could not produce registration paperwork (who saves that stuff?)...and the czar called it a pit mix. 

Ultimately, the problem is that all pit bull bans are extremely difficult to enforce fairly. One city in Kansas recently learned this the hard way. When the city of Salinas cited Lucey the terrier mix, her owner decided to appeal the pit bull designation. Using a DNA test marketed to determine mixed breed provenance (we’ve talked about this before on DailyVet), Lucey was found to have only 12 percent Staffordshire terrier (a pit bull marker) within her DNA.


Though I’d love to offer you Lucey’s tale of success as a great news story, it’s my take that this happy event only serves to underscore the ridiculousness of these bans. If cities must adopt a notoriously inaccurate test like this one to protect its citizens from the law, what does that say about these breed bans? They’re every bit as fickle and feckless. 

Not only is the thinking behind the bans flawed, the outcome of these laws is proof enough of their idiocy. Banning pit bulls has not reduced dog-related violence in areas that have adopted them. Those who keep pit bulls cruelly and irresponsibly will forever fly below the radar, while those of us who would keep them (and their mixes) as beloved pets are the ones whose dogs ultimately pay the price. 

Dr. Patty Khuly