Moving to Miami? Consider your dog's profile, first
OK, so I know I just wrote a piece on three pits attacking a cat and the havoc it ultimately wreaked on a non-thinking, legislative body’s poor choice of legislation. Not to reprise the whole pit bull thing, but yesterday’s discussion with a Broward County transplant had me seeing red all over again on a different rendition of the same issue.
You see, in Broward County (our northern neighbor here in Miami-Dade County, Florida), pit bulls are allowed to exist. In our county, however, the breed is “banned.” Breed bans such as ours are in place in many districts throughout the US. And it’s no secret that I’m vehemently opposed to this kind of haphazard legislation (read past posts on why I feel this way).
Back to my conversation: This young professional had lived in Broward and, while there, adopted a mixed-breed dog from her local Humane Society. She had sought a Boston Terrier rescue (her breed of choice), but the shelter didn’t have one of these. They did, however, have a Boston mix, whom this woman fell in love with immediately.
That would have been the happy ending to this story except that said Boston mix was also part pit bull. I saw a photo of her and, despite her small stature and upright ears, the resemblance to her pit forbearers was unmistakable—especially on the profile shots. I couldn’t help but say so, even after taking in her tale of woe:
After moving into an apartment in North Miami, she received a visit from an Animal Control officer. Apparently, this officer has complete authority (as our county’s pit bull surveillance expert), to distribute citations to those in violation of the anti-pit bull ordinance (which prohibits pit bulls, or any dog that resembles one, to exist within county limits). One of her new neighbors had obviously turned her in based on her dog’s appearance alone (the dog hadn’t been there a week and had never been off-leash).
A $500 fine was levied and the owner was instructed to move and keep her mix under wraps (wink-wink). This woman had the wherewithal to move to a house with a small, sheltered yard in another part of the city, but she was living in fear of the second violation (a $10,000 fine!).
I don’t know about you, but if I had an obviously mixed-breed dog and I moved here only to find that my dog wasn’t welcome due solely to its genetic provenance, I’d be in a tough spot, indeed. She’d asked her vet (a locally upstanding doc), talked to me, contacted the county and was currently looking into other legal options.
Apparently, temperament testing isn’t even an option, as the “no pit-bull” law is a blanket ban offering no exceptions. Once this particular gentleman stakes his claim on the breed of your dog, it’s over. Your dog goes.
I know the ACLU is busy with more human concerns, but isn’t anyone, anywhere, making headway against this kind of legislation? It seems unconscionable to me that this kind of restriction can be considered constitutional.
For the love of God, we have a constitutional right to bear arms, but we can’t even possess a dog that “looks like” [but isn’t even] a pit bull!? Even if she were a pit, what right does our government have to enforce restrictions like this? Were the constraints on citizens fair-minded, universal and compassionate, I wouldn’t have an issue at all.
As it stands, however, don’t plan on entering Miami-Dade County if your dog looks even remotely pit-bullish. She’s not even allowed to visit, much less take a stroll down Lincoln Road, should you choose to stay at one of our many pet-friendly hotels on South Beach. Sorry, even your Boston mix won’t be making friends with the local enforcement crowd. I suggest you hit Ft. Lauderdale, instead.