Controversial bill targeting pit bulls, other ‘dangerous’ dogs advances in Florida Senate

March 5th, 2010 by

TALLAHASSEE (sun-sentinel)— Legislators found a sure way to rile up a crowd Thursday: go after pit bulls.

The Florida Senate is advancing a controversial bill that could lead to tougher municipal laws on owners of pit bulls and other “dangerous” breeds, an idea that has prompted outraged dog lovers to e-mail and call their lawmakers in droves.

The legislation, approved by senators in the Community Affairs Committee on a 9-2 vote, would repeal Florida’s 1990 ban on breed-specific dog regulations, as long as any new rules stop short of an outright ban. Cities and counties could require owners to muzzle certain breeds in public, carry insurance to pay for attacks or take ownership training.

“We are discriminating against the good owners and the good dogs,” fumed Laura Bevan, director the Eastern Regional Office of the Humane Society of the United States.

The passionate, hourlong debate Thursday centered on pit bulls, which are actually a type of dog that covers three breeds, the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier.

As bill sponsor Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, put it: “We’re talking about pit bulls. That’s the genesis of the problem we’ve been having.”

Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, began pushing the bill in 2008 when a constituent in the Lauderdale Manors neighborhood told him she carries a baseball bat on evening strolls, citing her fear of unleashed pit bulls. At first, Thurston couldn’t even get a senator to sponsor the bill in that chamber. Thursday marked the first hearing on the issue.

Examples abound of violent pit bulls in Broward and Palm Beach counties, which seem to be hot spots for attacks. In November, a pit bull and a Labrador mix ripped apart and killed a 5-week-old kitten in Oakland Park. Last May, two pill bulls attacked a woman in Fort Lauderdale’s Victoria Park neighborhood and killed her dog, a silky terrier. And in June, a pit bull attacked and bit a 6-year-old girl riding a pink bike in front of her home. In several cases, police have shot charging pit bulls.

Miami-Dade is the only county in the state to have a ban on pit bulls. The county imposed that rule in 1989; it was grandfathered in before Florida adopted the ban on breed regulations.

While counties and cities wouldn’t be able to copy Miami-Dade’s ban, supporters said they should have the option to create local dog rules to keep their communities safe.

13 Responses


    to put a ban on “dangeraous” dogs would wipe out almost all large breeds.that would also include the use of german sheperds in law enforcement.a k9 dog attacked its owners son and they still kept the dog.a dog turns out how it is treated and raised.i have owned pitt bulls all my life and have never had any problems,there are not bad dogs just bad hummans.

  2. Luke Thomas

    What’s so controversial about it? It will effectively fight gang activites with their use of pit bulls and dog fighting enterprises. You cannot legislate responsible dog ownership. There are many medical and legal authorities who with evidence and facts proved that dangerous breeds do exist.

  3. Luke Thomas

    Did you know in Lancaster, California-six months after their pit bull ban, gang activities went down 45% because gangs use pit bulls to guard their crack houses, dog fighting (a major source of income for them). If you fight this bill, you are only helping the dog fighters and gangs, but maybe that’s what these pit bull zealots want being attracted to a dangerous breed of dog in the first place.

    City of Lancaster Vicious Dog Ordinance Contributes to 45% Drop in Violent Gang Crime
    Posted Date: 1/20/2010 10:00 AM

    The City of Lancaster’s stringent vicious dog ordinance, adopted by the City Council in January 2009, aims to protect the community and prevent gang members and others from using Pit Bulls and Rottweilers as weapons of intimidation or physical harm.,4_5_JO16_PETINSURE_S1-100216.article

    QUOTE: “According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten annually by dogs, with more than half of them requiring medical care. Those bites make a huge chomp into liability claims, accounting for a third of them in 2008 and costing $387.20 million

  4. Paul

    Donnie is right. I work in Pit rescue and have worked with dogs taken from fighting rings and never had one incident. Its not a “pit bull” issue that the senator talks about, its a human issue. I cant believe someone of his stature would not be able to put it together. What an ignorant statement. Not to mention it is estimated that the bill will cost tax payers over $25 million. People have to wake up and not believe everything they read in the paper. Dig for facts. Look at the Denver pit ban. Their major dog bites went up after the ban, why? Because the same bad owners got a different dog and the same result comes out of it. You dont solve anythign with breed bans, you just pay a lot of money and kill a lot of innocent dogs.

  5. bj

    its a load of BS!, blame the idoit owner not the dog they only act how they are rasied

  6. nick6211

    To say a dog is terrible is such an over statement. When abusive owners get a pit bull terrier they think it’s cool to mistreat them as puppies and they grow up mean. I’ve had 2 pit bull terriers and neither have attacked anyone. You don’t see the less desirables owning dogs of a weaker breed so they glorify the vicious side of the pit bull terrier and rotwieler. Don’t blame the dog, blame the owner and hype.

    During the show when Bubba was sick and Spice Boy took the reigns; there was a commentary about a girl who was attacked by 2 or 3 pit bulls and they blamed the dog. It was over looked that these dogs were chained up and there was no parent there watching the child. Knowing the dogs were mean and chained up shows that the owner had no right to any animal, let alone own this breed. The breed is not bad. LETS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OURSELVES, but will that ever happen in a society that’s fast to find fault in everything but ourselves?

  7. Brian Mckenney

    I have to agree with you Donnie,I’ve owned pit’s ever since I was young. They are one of the most loving breeds that I have seen. In fact,I have one now,and he is as gentle with my 7 year old daughter as our lab is. We really need to start defending these dogs,and start puting some of the responsibility on the P.O.S. owners thats are truly to blame. Ya’ll check out “Pitbulls and Parolees” on Animal planet.It’s a great show and it will make you have a change of heart about these dogs.

  8. Witz

    I like this law and it sounds like a great idea. These breeds are responsible for the most dog bites and expensive animal control, rabies investigations, and rabies treatments. This law would be one of the few out there that would be good to pass.

  9. Virginia

    People who say Pit bulls are responsible for most dog bites need to educate themselves before posting more lies, Pit Bulls are the only dogs you hear about on the news, so of course you would be led to believe they are responsible for the most bites..I have lived in florida all my life, and Pit Bulls have always been a very common breed in this state. I have owned Pit Bulls for over 30 years and have never had one problem in all that time..No dog of any breed should ever be allowed to run loose. Put the blame on irresponsible dog owners where it belongs..

  10. Ian

    It is really sad that a couple of 70 year old men that are out of touch with today are going to try and penalize me for having the sweetest dog I have ever owned.Malamutes,Chows and Dalmations are the leading dogs that bite people.Maybe we should put a ban on low class people that lay around and collect welfare but still afford to drive fancy cars and eat free food that I pay for. These would be the same people that tie dogs to a tree all day, beat them and wonder why the dog breaks loose and hurts someone.

  11. BR

    Luke Thomas is a fool. Anyone who equates opposing a pit bull ban as advocating for gang violence and dog fighting obviously has no idea what he’s talking about. I would assume he is not a dog owner as well. If he were he would understand that it is not the dog, but the owner and how that owner raises the dog which affects the ultimate disposition of the k9. The same can be said for people. Here is a hypo: You have 2 kids, one grows up in an affluent neighborhood with supporting loving parents and the other grows up in the hood with abusive and dysfunctional parents. Now which do you think will more likely grow to be a successful contributor to society and which will more likely not? Which will be more confrontational and prone to physical violence? Get it.

  12. Amanda

    This law is not right. Why not ban catholic church priests from Florida since they abuse children. These people making this law and those that are for it are ignorant. Just because all you hear about is the pit bulls attacking doesn’t mean they are the only breed. Look at your local dangerous breed website and you will see anything from chiuauas to chows, labs and goldens. Maybe the news needs to start reporting on the owners. The latest attack was on a 7 day old baby by an unaltered pit bull while the baby’s 16 year old mother was in the bed next to the baby sleeping and did not wake up through the entire attack. Blame the dog all you want, but what about the parents/owners.

    I have 2 pitbull mixes and they have never hurt anyone. If you know how to train and treat your dogs, there would be much less problems.

  13. Shop the AV

    ANY dog in the WRONG hands can be made to be aggressive.

    You can ban a felon from owning a gun.
    You can ban a sexual predator from living within a certain distance from certain areas, and from possessing pornography.

    If that can be done then they can certainly ban “gang members”, as well as ANY proven-irresponsible pet owner, from owning ANY dog or animal without unjustly punishing the THOUSANDS of law-abiding, tax-paying, RESPONSIBLE pet-owners such as I.

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