Pit bulls — also known as American Staffordshire terriers —would no longer be discriminated against in ordinances and would only be judged by their behavior, according to legislation that advanced Tuesday.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee unanimously voted for legislation (SB 614) that would prohibit public housing authorities and local ordinances from breed-specific rules on dogs. It repealed a previous line that allowed city rules that had passed before Oct. 1, 1990 — the same year that Miami-Dade County’s ordinance prohibiting pit bulls was adopted.
“There isn’t any scientific evidence that there is a particular breed that is dangerous,” said Sen. Ileana Garcia, the bill’s sponsor, who hails from Miami. “What we did see was during COVID, a huge uptick of our shelters in Miami-Dade … We just could not handle the amount of animals that were coming in because people were transitioning to public housing.”
She said that local governments and public housing entities are free to adopt rules about dogs that have attacked or bitten people, but should not single out dogs by breed.
“We have a saying in Spanish (that means) ‘the good ones pay for the bad,’” Garcia said.
Like Miami, the city of Sunrise also rules targeting pit bulls on its books.
Striking these rules from ordinance codes is something that the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation has been working toward for 18 years, said Dahlia Canes, the organization’s director and founder.
Miami’s ban on pit bulls is ridiculous, she said, “because you can’t identify a breed visually.”
The co-founder of the Freckles Freedom Fund, an organization that helps families avoid surrendering their animals, called Garcia’s bill “huge.”
Miami-Dade offered voters the chance to repeal its pit bull ban in 2012, but only 36% agreed.
“It was an uninformed decision,” said Wendy Schugar, who now lives in Broward County, on breed-specific rules. “It was based on passion as opposed to good science.”