Just as there are online registries for sexual offenders and animal abusers, South Florida dogs who behave very badly will soon find themselves featured on a dangerous dogs website.
Yesterday the Miami-Dade County Commission approved a measure that allows the county to post information about dogs that have attacked or caused severe injury or death to a domestic animal more than once, or that have attacked or approached a person in a menacing way.
The website will not be limited to any specific breeds. “This is all about being responsible for your animal. I don’t believe in bad dogs, I believe in bad owners,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Diaz told WSVN.
Pet parents of dogs deemed dangerous will have to provide the website with their address, along with a photo and biography of their dog. They will be able to fight the citations. Animal Services director Alex Munoz told WSVN, “Any action taken can be appealed to a hearing officer.”
Some county commissioners opposed the website because of privacy concerns. “I just see so many potential problems for abuse in this legislation, but I have to say that I appreciate the intent,” Commissioner Linda Bell told WSVN.
Animal advocates also have concerns. Michael Rosenberg, president and founder of The Pets’ Trust Miami, told the Miami Herald the website was fine for dogs guilty of unprovoked attacks. “But if it’s taunted, it’s not necessarily a dangerous dog,” he said. “Humans have a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law; dogs should have it, too.”
The new measure also raises the fine for vicious dogs from $500 to $1,000, doubling every time a dog attacks. For repeat offenders, a judge can decide to have the dog euthanized. The measure will allow police officers to seize any dog they decide is dangerous.
According to the Miami Herald, the Florida counties of Charlotte, Orange and Seminole already have online dangerous dog registries.
PHOTO: David Shankbone