August 14, 2012 was supposed to be a joyous day for pit bull advocacy. Repeal of the Miami-Dade pit bull ban was on the ballot, support from national PACs was strong and vocal, celebrity advocates were in the news, media support was blatant. The only thing that breed specific advocacy did not count on was the common sense of voters.
Early in 2012 Miami-Dade experienced an absolute deluge of pro pit propaganda. The carpetbaggers from Best Friends Animal Society used the same tactics that were successful in Ohio but behind the scenes politics with Florida Legislators did not gain the hoped for result. State legislators were receptive and willing to trample the home rule rights of Miami-Dade
but law makers in Miami-Dade were unwilling to go along with the scheme. Miami-Dade had a pit bull ban that predated the 1990 Florida state wide anti BSL measure. Miami-Dade was well pleased with their law and unwilling to give it up. In the 23 years of the ban there were no Miami-Dade pit bull mauling deaths. The same cannot be said for the rest of the state. Since the statewide anti BSL measure was passed in 1990 sixteen Florida residents have been killed by pit bulls. Local and state lawmakers agreed on a compromise, the matter would go on the ballot.
Miami-Dade residents would be the first voters ever to cast votes to keep a breed ban or repeal it. Wow, what a concept, voters would be able to voice their opinions in the privacy of the voting booth, without threats or intimidation from breed specific advocates.
Best Friends shifted into high gear. Celebrity spokes persons were lined up. In this case Mark Buehrle, a probably-past-his-prime baseball pitcher newly acquired by the Miami Marlins. Buerhle and his wife, Jamie, are new pit bull owners and feel free to demand changes to local law to suit their lifestyle. Mrs. Buerhle and her new dog seemed to be everywhere.
The AVMA made their usual, and shameless endorsement of pit bulls. The HSUS and ASPCA statements were the same. Local pit bull advocate Dalia Canes, Director and co-founder of Miami Coalition Against BSL was very public in her statements that she was a Miami resident and kept pit bulls at her home. Please note in the above linked material from the 1/27/2012 Miami-Dade Public Safety and Healthcare Committee hearing, Ms. Canes claimed that Miami-Dade spent three million dollars a year to enforce the breed ban. Please note that in the same hearing the Animal Services Director, Alex Munoz testified "three million dollars was more than the department's entire budget for enforcement and pit bulls accounted for 2% of the enforcement expenses." This was going to be a long hot summer in Miami, and it was. Florida pit bull maulings hit the news regularly but advocates ignored the bloodshed.
Miami-Dade voters went to the polls and cast their votes. Pit bull advocates were wildly motivated to turn out in numbers Ms. Canes promised would lead to a landslide for pit bull advocacy. Oops, Best Friends and Ms. Canes did not allow for the common sense of the electorate.
In the very first true test of public desire for breed specific legislation, an overwhelming majority of voters said "yes, we want it!" Breed specific advocacy is undaunted and vows to continue efforts to "educate" the public.
The story does not end here. Miami-Dade commissioners went on to beef up dangerous dog regulations. They voted 9-1 to create an on-line Dangerous Dog Registry, complete with a photo of the dog and the owner's address. Fines for dog attacks are increased to $1000. Since pit bulls are banned in Maimi-Dade, including Ms. Canes personal pit bulls, it will be interesting to watch the on-line line up of Dangerous dogs.