New Florida law to lift local bans on pit bulls starting October

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A new Florida law that goes into effect in a few months will invalidate Miami-Dade County’s ban on pit bulls.

Lauree Simmons said the bans have unfairly cost dogs’ lives because there is a misconception that the breed is unpredictably more aggressive than others.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, every dog needs to be evaluated and treated as an individual — no matter its breed. Simmons agrees.

“I have more bites from chihuahuas and I have never been bitten by a pit bull,” Simmons said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the new Authorization of Restrictions Concerning Dogs law after state lawmakers passed it as Florida State Bill 942 and Florida House Bill 941.

When it goes into effect on Oct. 1, it will invalidate Miami-Dade County’s pit bull ban, which started in 1989 after a 7-year-old girl survived an attack that required reconstruction surgeries.

Although the state law invalidates the county ban, it still allows residential communities to ban specific dog breeds. Simmons said that too needs to change.

“Owner surrenders are up 60% — 40% of that is due to rent discrimination where people are downsizing, renting somewhere small, or moving into a different community,” Simmons said.

Simmons, the founder of the Big Dog Ranch Rescue, at 14444 Okeechobee Blvd., in Loxahatchee Groves, has been saving pit bulls for decades.

“We have rescued thousands and thousands of them,” Simmons said.

There are opponents of the law who are concerned about public safety without the ban. The National Pit Bull Victim Awareness is among the advocacy groups that continue to support breed-specific legislation.

About the Author:

Eden Checkol co-anchors Local 10's 10 p.m. weeknight newscast on WSFL and also reports on WPLG newscasts. She’s a Minnesota native who is thrilled to leave the snow behind and call South Florida home.