Sunday, February 26, 2012

MIAMI - DADE COUNTY FL - PIT BULL'S HISTORY JUSTIFIES MIAMI-DADE COUNTY BAN - "THE BAN WASN'T JUST FOR NOTHING"

THE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY BAN PASSED 6-0.  BUT THE OLD DEBATE HAS RESURFACED THIS WEEK AS A KIND OF STRANGE "CANINE PSEUDO-CIVIL-RIGHTS CAMPAIGN" - EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL BREEDS - EVEN DANGEROUS BREEDS.

Posted Wednesday - Feb. 15, 2012 - by Fred Grimm - The Miami Herald - It wasn't for nothing, the old hands down at county hall would say, recalling the origins of Miami-Dade's Pit bull ban.  The ban was born out of real public revulsion, after one terrible attack after another had been attributed to the breed.

County commissioners back in 1989 were responding to Deaths and Disfigurements and terrible injuries suffered by victims of Pit Bull attacks.  And to outraged owners of other pets torn apart by dogs described as Pit Bulls.  Victims trooped down to the county commission chambers and showed the commissioners their scars and testified about how they were mauled.

The ban passed 6-0.  But the old debate over Pit Bulls has resurfaced this week as a kind of strange canine pseudo-civil-rights campaign.   Equal rights for all breeds.  Even dangerous breeds.  The Miami-Dade County Commission, trying to circumvent a bill in the state Legislature that would force the county to get rid of its dog ordinance (and threaten the county's special home-rule status),  plans to add a referendum to the August ballot that would allow voters, instead, to decide the Pit Bull issue.

It might be worth remembering that the county politicians, who enacted the ban 23 years ago, reacted to public pressure and gut-wrenching testimony.

Pilar Moreira was there the day the ordinance passed, holding the hand of her scarred  and bandaged 8-year-old daughter Melissa.  The mother described how she and 3 other adults struggled to pull a Pit Bull off her daughter and how they were bitten themselves.  A doctor said Melissa's injuries reminded him of war wounds.

Moreira's story followed a decade of brutal dog attacks across South Florida that police blamed  on Pit Bulls.  Civic leaders were convinced that Pit Bull attacks were wildly disproportionate to attacks by other breeds, especially when measured by their severity.  The South Florida campaign against the breeds loosely categorized as Pit Bulls --American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers -- probably began in Hollywood Florida  in 1979, when a Pit Bull mauled 6-year-old   FRANKIE SCARBROUGH'S    face and nearly ripped off his scalp.  In early 1980  ETHEL TIGGS  age 71, stepped into the backyard of her Northwest Miami home,  when her own two Pit Bulls suddenly turned on her, maiming and nearly killing her before policemen shot them dead.  Ten days later, in Carol City, a Pit Bull bit off the thumb of James Harris as he tried, futilely, to save his dachshund from its jaws.

GEORGE  CUARTAS, 16, of Miami, told commissioners a bike ride turned into a nightmare when 3 Pit bulls jumped him 5 years ago.  He lost part of his leg in the attack.

There was a serious attack on a letter carrier  LOUISE JOHNSON  in 1985.  And a woman was nearly killed by 4 Pit Bulls a few months later.

Then, in 1984, a Pit Bull in Davie leaped into a crib and killed  9-week-old  DANIEL LLOYD SMITH..  More attacks followed..  South Florida cities reacted with their own anti-Pit Bull ordinances (several of which were overturned in court for being too vague).  Broward County outlawed the Breed after County Commissioner Howard Forman noted that the 972 registered Pit Bulls in the County had been responsible for 192 reported attacks --a rate 8 times higher than the average for other dogs.

Then the National Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention published a 9-year-study of dog attacks that blamed Pit Bulls for 42 percent of the human deaths caused by dogs each year in the U.S.  The CDC report noted:  "We do not believe that Pit Bulls represent anywhere near 42 percent of the dogs in the United States."  The danger from Pit Bulls, the CDC concluded, "IS REAL AND INCREASING."

A statewide poll in 1989 found that 54 percent of Floridians favored  a ban on Pit Bulls.  In South Flforida, the percentage would have been much higher.  The day the ban passed, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Gersten said:

"IF WE CAN SAVE THE LIFE OF ONE CHILD OR STOP AN INNOCENT VICTIM FROM BEING MAIMED FOR LIFE BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ORDINANCE, THEN I FEEL THE COMMISSION HAS DONE SOMETHING."

In 1990, a state law, pushed by the American Kennel Club and some rural legislators, prohibited cities and counties from new "breed specific" legislation.   Pit Bull owners had complained about prejudice and discrimination based on a  few sensational anecdotes.  Anti-Pit Bull ordinances across the state were undone.  Only Miami-Dade County, with its constitutionally protected home-rule status, kept its ban.

AND NOW THAT LAST ORDINANCE COULD BE UNDONE BY FORGETFUL VOTERS IN A REFERENDUM THIS AUGUST.......BUT  THEY SHOULD BE MINDFUL.....THE BAN WASN'T JUST FOR NOTHING !!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sick to death of the American Kennel Club and I will NEVER register another one of my dogs with them. This may be just a small gesture, but if everyone who is as sick to death of them as I am, did the same, they would loose a lot of money. Money talks.