The dogs are family members. Its not so easy to say: Youve had the dog for three years, now find a place to give it to, Labrada said.
Unless theres a follow-up complaint, she said, we dont end up going back to check. But the agency does ask for proof that the dog has been licensed elsewhere. If the dog doesnt leave, the owner faces a $500 fine and gets 20 days to appeal, with a stay of enforcement.
After that, said Labrada, if the dog is still on the property, we can obtain a court order to seize the dog. But its not something we do frequently. Weve had maybe two dozen [court] orders to seize in the past five years.
A seized dog could remain in the shelter for months, at taxpayer expense, as the case goes through the courts.
Labrada isnt worried about an explosion of pit-bull breeding if the repeal succeeds, because we have good hobby-breeder laws. But shes concerned that a lot of people will go out and get one, and its not a dog for everyone. Its important to research the breed and make sure its a good fit with your lifestyle. Theyre high-energy [and] not necessarily good with small animals.
Bearing the scars
Pilar Garcia doesnt much care what veterinarians and animal-welfare groups say or what studies show. What she cares about is that 23 years ago, an unleashed pit bull-type dog ripped into her 8-year-old daughters face, leaving Melissa Moreira with permanent scars.
The dog also mauled Garcia and her then mother-in-law, as they tried to help.
With scars fresh and emotions raw, Garcia, then Pilar Moreira, went before the county commission and demanded, Who in this room is going to bring my child back to the way she was? Weeks later mindful of horrendous attacks in Broward they approved the ban.
Garcia predicts disaster if the repeal succeeds on Tuesday.
Well have the ultimate problem, and I could see the amount of people who will be bitten by pit bulls, she said. Theyre going to have them running loose all over the place and they will attack. I will not like to see this...No other dog will ever do the damage that a pit bull can. Its a very powerful animal.
Melissa said shes still afraid of big dogs, and finds the sight of a pit bull traumatizing. If a newly legal pit bull hurts a child, she said, the commissioners, will have blood on their hands.
HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD: Recommends you vote Yes to repeal the ban.