Sen. Ileana Garcia’s proposal to bar local governments from discriminating against pit bulls and other powerful dogs got through the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday after she pointed out Chihuahuas bite even more.
Her bill (SB 614) would eliminate state authorization for cities and counties to prohibit certain types of dogs based on breeds. That would be replaced with authority for cities and counties — and public housing authorities as well — to develop bans of certain dogs based on the dogs’ temperament.
Essentially, the legislation would roll back anti-pit bull ordinances that were popular in the 1990s when that breed in particular became the focus of concerns over vicious dogs. Since pit bulls got that bad-boy image, they have exploded in popularity, becoming one of the nation’s most popular breeds.
“We just want to create a focus on the fact that this should be based on the temperament of the animals, not necessarily on certain incidents and situations that might have magnified this to a particular breed, such as pit bull or Rottweiler or German shepherd,” said the Miami Republican.
“As a matter of fact, the dog that bites the most is probably the smallest one of them all. Well, two of them: the Chihuahua and the politician,” Garcia added. “The Chihuahua in this particular case.”
The change would effectively nullify Miami-Dade County’s regulations and restrictions on owners of “pit bull dogs.” Garcia said other locales — she mentioned Tallahassee — also have bans on specific breeds.
The bill received support Thursday from several animal groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
There was no objection from the Agriculture Committee, which voted 8-0 to forward SB 614 to the Senate Rules Committee, its third and final stop before the floor.
“I think this bill does a great job of putting the emphasis where it should be, and that’s on whether a dog has a poor temperament or poses a danger, and not specifically looking at breeds. Let’s look at the behavior of the dog and make our decision based on that,” said Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley of Orange Park.