Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday signed a measure that ends the last remaining municipal and public housing restrictions against specific dog breeds, which have mostly targeted pit bulls.
The legislation (SB 942) came through both chambers with just one “nay.”
“Let’s not allow baseless barriers in government housing to contribute to this crisis any longer,” bill sponsor Republican Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera of Miami said in the House debate, noting that housing is the reason that many people surrender their animals to animal shelters.
The Legislature had already passed prohibitions against breed-specific local rules before, but ordinances approved before Oct. 1, 1990 were allowed to stand. Miami still has one that prohibits pit bulls. And Sunrise’s law, passed in 1989, requires “pit bull dogs” to be securely locked in a pen, or muzzled.
Come, Oct. 1, though, those rules and any others that single out specific breeds for restrictions are going to be null and void.
“This is going to save so many lives and so many broken hearts,” said Dahlia Canes, a founder of Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation.
Her group has been trying to overturn Miami’s pit bull prohibition for nearly 20 years.
Her dog “Chocolate” had been taken from her because of the ban. Through that, she also learned how arbitrarily a dog can be labeled a “pit bull.
Animal advocates have been pushing for the bill for numerous Sessions. It had passed in the Senate only to languish and die in the House.
“I knew sooner or later this had to happen — people can’t stay stupid forever,” Canes said. But then she added, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
Canes said she wants to work for an end to breed-specific bans across the nation — and work to pass federal legislation. And so dogs will be judged on behavior and history, rather than breed. Florida’s new law does not prevent cities or public housing entities from putting restrictions on dogs that have bitten or attacked people or domestic animals.
“This is what I’ll be doing until the day I drop dead,” Canes said.