It also conflicts with the commission’s recently-adopted “no-kill’’ goal to lower that rate, rarely less than 40 percent of dogs, to about 10 percent
“You can’t have ‘no kill’ if you have BSL,’’ said Debi Day, an activist with No Kill Nation, the group that secured a “no kill’’ pledge from both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
• BSL, which applies to other breeds in other communities, including German shepherds, Rottweiler, huskies, mastiffs and wolf hybrids, doesn’t stop dogs from biting people. The Miami-Dade Health Department, which doesn’t keep bite-by-breed statistics, reported 1,742 dog-bite cases last year. Pit bull attacks anywhere invariably make headlines, as several did in Broward, and none were reported in Miami-Dade.
BSL creates what the ASPCA calls a “false sense of security,’’ and shifts resources from enforcing laws that actually make communities safer, like licensing, leashing, spay-neutering — almost all fatal attacks are caused by “intact’’ dogs —anti-fighting and anti-tethering laws (tethering more than doubles the probability that a dog will bite).
• Any breed, under the right conditions, might bite. The list of top 10 biters last year in Palm Beach County, for instance, included Chihuahuas, Shih-tzus, Maltese and Labrador retrievers, alongside Rottweiler, German shepherds and pit bulls, at number one.
But Millie O’Roark, the Palm Beach public safety department’s animal bite coordinator, warns that such rankings are inherently faulty because victims and even vets can’t always identify a breed accurately. Pit bulls, because they’re an amalgam of other breeds, are particularly “ambiguous,’’ the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in 2001, “and witnesses may be predisposed to assume that a vicious dog is of this type.’’
The CDC concluded that dangerous-dog laws might be more effective than BSL “because a dog’s tendency to bite depends on other factors in addition to genetics [such as] medical and behavioral health, early experience, socialization and training, and victim behavior.’’
Among those pushing for repeal: Shorty Rossi, star of the reality show Pit Boss, about his pit-bull rescue efforts. He thinks the ban has warped Miami-Dade residents’ view of an affectionate, people-friendly breed.
He recently passed through the county with co-star service dog Hercules, a pit bull, on his way to a Broward pro-repeal rally, and couldn’t believe how passersby reacted.
“It was like I was walking a Bengal tiger,’’ he said. “Wherever we go, everybody wants to touch the dog, but in Miami, people are in utter fear because for 20-plus years, they’ve been brainwashed that these are natural-born killers.’’
But some sidled up to him, he said, and whispered: “ ‘I actually have a pit bull that I have to hide.’ ’’
Others opposing BSL include the American Humane Association, The American Kennel Club, and The United Kennel Club, and officials at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption.
Because pit bulls are legal in Broward, Miami-Dade residents sometimes dump them across the county line, assuming, incorrectly, they’ll be adopted, says Lisa Mendheim, Broward Animal Care’s public education coordinator.