House Bill 997 and Senate Bill 1322 bring Miami-Dade County into compliance with current state law, which rightfully prohibits local governments from making public policies that singles out certain dogs based solely on appearance. Right now in Miami-Dade County, good dogs are being judged by only their appearance and not their behavior. As a resultof this breed discrimination, hundreds of innocent dogs are needlessly killed every year. This archaic law does not make our communities safer, it only devastates responsible families who love their pets but have to give them up or worse put them down. There is a solution, you the members of the Miami-Dade County Commission, have the power to put an end to this. We urge you to support these bills, and stand down on your efforts to put this issue to a ballot vote. As it stands, should this issue become a local ballot initiative, it would be on the ballot in August, during the primary election. You know very well that voter turn out during this cycle is small and insignificant compared to the November general election. During a general election, the will of the people of Miami-Dade would be better, and more accurately represented. Further, this is also not a home rule issue, which has been a consistent defense by several commission members. Miami-Dade County was granted an exemption, and allowed to continue to breed discriminate, by the state of Florida in 1990, and the state of Florida has a right to remove that exemption as it sees fit.
For us, the Urgent Dogs of Miami volunteer team, we know first-hand how destructive this ordinance has been for Miami families and dogs, alike. Our team is the leading social media group that helps get dogs at-risk in our county shelter out alive. We have helped network dogs who are just days away from dying for nothing more than that they have been designated a "pit bull." We have seen dogs whose families have been forced to surrender them in order to avoid expensive fines by the county they just can't afford. These are dogs that could make it out of the shelter alive, or stay happily with their families who love them, if this law were repealed. We believe with the new leadership at our county shelter, and the commitment of grassroots volunteers like us, that Miami has the potential to reach no kill goals in the future. But, that will never be possible as long as this breed-discriminatory law remains in place. We believe that the people of Miami-Dade care about their pets and that we can create a more humane community through a myriad of other solutions besides this breed discriminatory ordinance. Through improved access to affordable veterinary care and training, enhanced penalties for residents who do not properly care for their pets, and grassroots education, we can create a more humane community that we can all be proud of. But, that starts with repealing this law. Please support House Bill 997 and Senate Bill 1322.