Even though every major humane and veterinary association opposes breed-specific legislation (BSL) – mainly because it’s unfair, has not proven to increase public safety and costs taxpayers thousands of dollars to enforce – yesterday 63 percent of voters in Miami-Dade County, Fla., opposed a repeal of the Pit Bull ban there.
It was the first time voters had a say in whether to continue the ban, which began in 1989. Dahlia Canes, founder of the Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation (MCABSL), told the Miami Herald she wasn’t surprised that the repeal didn’t pass.
“We only had a few months to reeducate an entire county that has been brainwashed for 23 years,’’ she said.
The confusing wording on the ballot – including hot-button terms like “dangerous breed of dogs” – didn’t help. On its Facebook page, the MCABSL is asking voters who mistakenly thought they were voting No to end the ban, to email firstname.lastname@example.org so the coalition can determine just how widespread the confusion was.
Farther up the East Coast, hopes were raised last week in Maryland when the Senate passed a revised version of a bill so that it no longer singled out Pit Bulls as being “inherently dangerous” or made Maryland the only state in which owners and landlords of Pit Bulls would be liable for injuries caused by those dogs.
But those hopes were dimmed last night when the General Assembly deadlocked over changing the language.
In a controversial ruling last April, the Maryland Court of Appeals declared that the ownership of Pit Bulls or mixes in that state would become a “strict liability risk,” meaning that owners of these dogs – as well as the landlords who rented to those owners – would be liable for damages should the dog bite someone.
Last week the Senate voted 41-1 to remove breed-specific language so that all pet parents would be liable should their dogs attack.
The General Assembly will not reconvene until January.
Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, told the Baltimore Sun, “It’s really unfortunate that thousands of Maryland families will be forced to choose either their dogs or their homes in the next four months.”