Proposed bills would overturn local pit bull prohibitions
Miami's pit bull ban stays in place for another year.

Pitbull Portrait
Behavior, not breed, should decide where dogs can go, the bills contend.

Dogs should be judged not by breed, but by their behavior, according to a pair of bills that would overturn Miami-Dade County’s 33-year-old pit bull ban.

Sen. Alexis Calatayud and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, both Republicans representing the Miami area, have filed identical bills (SB 942, HB 941) that would end Miami’s city ordinance banning pit bulls and any other local ordinances that target specific breeds.

Previous legislation banning breed-specific legislation had allowed local ordinances passed before Oct. 1, 1990 to stand.

This year’s measure is the same as last year’s in all but the bills’ titles, dropping the term “dangerous dogs.” The legislation last year made it past committee hearings — and the Senate version received unanimous approval on the floor — but the House version did not catch the metaphorical car.

The reintroduction has given new hope to pit bull advocates, however.

Dahlia Canes, of the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation, has been working on getting ordinances like Miami-Dade’s overturned for the last 19 years. For her, it all started when a dog named “Chocolate” jumped into her car, pregnant and injured.

“I ended up keeping her and falling in love with her,” said Canes, a Miami resident, recalling how leaving the dog for pet-sitting at a friend’s home resulted in Chocolate being seized and nearly euthanized.

Now, Miami-Dade’s 1990 ordinance is rarely enforced, but it does keep families from moving into public housing with four-legged family members, according to Canes.

“A lot more people would end up in houses with their dogs,” Canes said, should the bill pass. “It would eliminate the breed specific issues in public housing.”

The city of Sunrise’s ordinance would not be allowed, either. Those rules, passed in 1989, define “pit bull dogs” as any dog that has characteristics as described by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for American Staffordshire terriers or Staffordshire bull terriers. And those dogs, according to Sunrise’s rules, must be securely locked in a pen or muzzled.

The proposed bill, however, does not prevent cities or public housing entities from putting restrictions on dogs that have bitten or attacked people or domestic animals.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts American

    February 24, 2023 at 8:37 pm

    Good Evening ‘Marica,
    I’m Mad as #ell,
    “My Big ‘Ole Butt”.
    Both Republicans, sigh, Alexis and Demi WTF do you think you are doing. With all the BIG FIRES we need to put out this legislative session in Florida you are jacking around with another damn dog bill just like Lauren Book??????
    Sigh, Alexis and Demi, No #ell No, this is Not the time to wast a minute of precious legislative time on another &ffin Dog Bill.
    We have real fires to put out…maybe we take up &ffin Dog Bills Next &ffin year….how about that.
    “My Big ‘Ole Butt”.
    Where the &ff are you girls from? What? Miami? Well #ell now that kind of ‘splains it…….Right?
    Thank You ‘Marica,
    Earl Pitts American

  • RG

    February 24, 2023 at 11:24 pm

    2 people were killed by pit bulls this week. A woman in Toledo, and a man in San Antonio. Pit bulls kill more people than all other breeds combined. Pit bull bans prevent deaths. If you wait until something happens to act, it will be too late–someone will be seriously mauled or dead.

    • Earl Pitts American

      February 25, 2023 at 7:49 am

      Good morning RG,
      “My Big ‘Ole Butt”.
      Thank you RG,
      Earl Pitts American

  • Ocean Joe

    February 25, 2023 at 8:16 am

    From Miami NewTimes:
    “Back in February 1989, a 7-year-old girl named Melissa Moreira was walking home on SW 18th Terrace near FIU after a night of shopping with her family when a neighbor’s pit bull ran at her and leapt. The dog tore apart the girl’s face and arms as she screamed. It then savaged her mother and grandmother before a neighbor shot it four times in the head.
    The animal left the girl in critical condition. She survived only after extensive reconstructive surgery to her face.
    Soon after that attack, Miami-Dade banned all pit bulls.”

    If you have to have a dog that bites, get a poodle, a shepherd, or a chihuahua.

  • randy

    February 25, 2023 at 8:46 am

    What ever happened to local home rule? The Florida GOP is all about taking away the power of the people to govern themselves. Ironically, they are fine with the US Supreme Court’s abortion decision letting states decide whether to allow abortion rights. In recent years, the Florida GOP has been on a rampage to preempt local government and that’s just not very, well, republican! Same with the constitutional citizens initiative process – shameful pattern of authoritarianism to destroy democratic ideals. I’m for the idea of “majority rule” and LOCAL government but I have never been partisan.

  • Gretchen Dore

    February 27, 2023 at 1:07 pm

    For those against this bill, I will remind you of the evil human beings in this world who kill, murder, rape, abuse, and much more. And Earl Pitts American — something is wrong with you. Some decent English language may get your point across a bit more clearer then hostility and profanity.

Comments are closed.


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