“If current news reports are to be believed, pit bulls have been attacking and biting humans left and right—to the point that many communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls.” Said Jon Bastian from his article on the Cesar Milan website.
Three Pit Bulls attacked a women in Orlando, Florida on July 31, 2013. Articles like this is what Pit Bull lovers question about the media. Susan Troiano wrote an article in 2011 explaining how important it is to educate the public. “How the story is told will affect how the audience will perceive information. By telling a story, the media is persuading its readers or listeners that will cause a reaction to the news. This reaction is either positive or negative, and this is how the ratings go up.” According to CDC, “each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of these are children. Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about 16 die.” The CDC supports the position that irresponsible owners, NOT breed, is the number one cause of dog bites. “I have grown up with everyone believing the media that pit bulls are a dangerous breed and they will hurt children, and I have never once seen a pit bull harm anyone.” Said Kara Lopez, pit bull owner. “It really pains me to know that pit bulls die every single day, even puppies from dog pounds, because the cities or states make laws that don’t effect the people who teach the breed how to fight and torture them so they are vicious. I may not know everything about how the BSL law works, however I think there should be a harsher punishment to people who treat pit bulls like they are just toys and think dog fighting is just a sport.”
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is a law or ordinance passed by a legislative body, which pertains to a specific breed or breeds of domesticated animals. It bans, restricts, or imposes conditions on owning certain dog breeds. It is a common method some cities use in order to reduce dog bite-related injuries. Hundreds of municipalities of all sizes and geographic locations through out the country have adopted BSL. An estimated twelve states have passed laws prohibiting BSL by local governments including; Florida, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. “I strongly believe that pit bulls should not be banned or any breed for that matter. Dogs are not just pets they are family.” Said Kara Lopez.
In Miami-Dade county the breed specific legislation law and ban against the pit bull breed began in 1989 over 23-years ago. In July 2012, the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation (MCABSL) and the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association (SFVMA) tried to repeal the pit bull ban and apply a ‘no kill’ act in the South Florida animal shelters. Voters in Florida’s Miami-Dade County voted 63 percent to 37 percent to uphold the county’s ban on pit bull and pit bull-related breeds. Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation (MCABSL) founder Dahlia Canes was not surprised by the results. The ballot read, “Shall the ordinance repealing the county’s 23-year-old law prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?” Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida who holds the BSL ban. “These dogs are family members like any other dogs, actually in the 1940’s they were breed to be nanny dogs for your kids.” Said Dahlia Canes. “If you do your research you will find that there is no reputable animal organization that endorses or supports breed specific legislation, on the contrary they oppose it, and the only one who supports it is Peta.” Studies have proven that BSL has been ineffective in reducing the number of dog bits in areas where the BSL is enacted.
Dahlia Canes, founder of MCABSL, talks about the breed specific legislations laws in Miami-Dade county and what it means for the pit bull breed.
Pit bulls are not the only dog to be considered a menace to society. In the late 1800’s, the bloodhound was often used to capture escaped slaves. The majority of dog attacks reported in Northeastern newspapers from 1864 to 1899 that bloodhounds were the dogs doing the attacking. After World War II, there was a spike in reports of attacks by German Shepard’s, a breed associated with the Nazis. Dog attacks have been going on for centuries, and as the years have passed; the government began to get involved. Pit Bull organizations argue that banning certain breeds will not solve the problem of mean dogs, but going after their masters might. BSL in the United States is controversial, gathering both sides of protest has been considered, however, passing breed bans and prohibiting breed bans is continually changing through the United States and other countries around the world.
Pit bulls are the most common dog in shelters nation wide. An estimated 33% of shelter intakes are Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes, and in large cities the numbers are as high as 40% to 65%, and about 75% of municipal shelters euthanize Pit Bulls immediately upon intake, without ever having a chance for adoption. The Miami-Dade shelter consists of an estimated 50% of pit bull mixes or breed related. People in Miami-Dade cannot adopt pit bulls, leaving little opportunity for these animals to be adopted or fostered. Dahlia Canes from Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation and other rescuers have been to the shelter, trying to help the animals find homes. They are there to fight and to try and save every single pit bull left in Miami-Dade Animal Services and get them out of the county to safety.
Pilar Borras is an animal activist and board member of the Miami Coalition against breed specific legislation in Miami, Florida. She believes in helping these animals and she believes that it is the people not the breed that should be punished. The animal shelter in Miami-Dade has a ‘Receiving Area’ where people can bring their dogs at any time and drop them off. “People just bring their dogs because they don’t want them or they can’t have them, and unfortunately most of them don’t make it out.” Said Pilar Borras. “There is too many of them, and no rules. There are no people outside educating the people and telling them there are other options.” The Miami-Dade animal shelter is understaffed and they need more volunteers to help them with the amount of animals that are coming in each day. The photos below are pit bulls and pit bull mixes who are at the Miami-Dade animal shelter, waiting to be adopted or fostered.
Dahlia Canes believes that educating the public about pit bulls is important. “Unfortunately the reason why the ban is here is because people are uninformed, they are uneducated.” Said Dahlia Canes from MCABSL. “The media puts out tremendous myths on these dogs being aggressive and they are not. Look at the other end of the leash, these dogs were not breed to be aggressive, these dogs are family members just like any other dog.” Jodi Preis of Bless the Bully’s, a pit bull rescue and education group in Middle Tennessee started National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD) in 2007. NPBAD is a day of appreciation and education, which is designed to change the perception and stereotypes about pit bulls and their responsible owners.
MCABSL will be hosting their 5th annual barbecue event on National Pit Bull Awareness month in October. This year they will be celebrating pit bull awareness day in Pembroke Pines, Florida at CB Smith Park on October 20, 2103. Pit bulls are not banned in Broward County, allowing MCABSL and the owners of pit bulls to attend. Dahlia Canes says, “we get a tremendous amount of dogs with their owners.” Anyone with a pit bull can attend this event. “It’s a fantastic event that exposes people, otherwise unaware of the friendly and loving characteristics of pit bulls and pit bull type dogs.” Said Tony Carrera, founder of WheresMyPet.com. “It’s a proactive method of combating the image that the media outlets portray this breed as, which is usually violent and vicious, when in fact they are some of the most affectionate companions of all dog types.”
Breed Specific Legislation laws are being enforced in different cities and countries around the world. Petitions like the one from bulladelphia.org and change.org are trying to remove BSL. Stopbsl.org asks the citizens of Miami-Dade to educate themselves about the pit bull breeds, and asks to stay united to be able to resolve the efforts to repeal the breed ban. People who are passionate about the cause can sign up for emails on the MCBASL website, where you will receive notices on events and public hearings for the pit bull ban in Miami, Florida. The Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation cannot reveal their outright plans about removing the ban, however Dahlia Canes says they are close to removing the ban in Miami-Dade County. “We can use all the support we can, you are your dogs voice, the dogs can’t be out there jumping up and down saying ‘hey release me, free me’ so it’s up to the responsible owners to do it for them.” Said Dahlia Canes, founder of MCABSL. “We can only put it out there so much, but without the public support, the dogs are done with.”
PETA has a petition for people who want to remove BSL from their state. Last week, President Obama addressed BSL stating ““We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.” BSL has not been affective in decreasing dog bites or increasing public safety. MCABSL continues to fight for the breed in hopes to remove the BSL, Pit Bull ban from Miami-Dade County. MCABSL is working every day to remove the ban from Miami and has hope that it will be removed soon.