No vote on proposed pit bull ban in Broward

Measure to draft an amendment revising and expanding "fighting dogs" definitions, fines approved

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Broward County commissioners didn't vote on a proposal that would ban pit bulls and similar breeds in the county.

Vice-Mayor Barbara Sharief brought the proposal forward. At a meeting Tuesday, 59 residents spoke, many who were against the ban.

"You do not, repeat, do not have a pit bull problem," said Dahlia Kane. "You have a spay and neuter problem, you have an animal abuse problem, a dog fighting problem, and an irresponsible dog ownership problem, but you do not have a pit bull problem."

"I spoke up, I marched and I voted for civil rights in the sixties and now I find myself doing the same thing in 2013 for the pet that I love," said Diane Ratnor.

"Please don't ban the breed. Punish the owners that are irresponsible," said one resident.

"It took him three days for that dog to steal my heart," said another. "He is amazing. He wouldn't hurt a fly."

"The media decides to brainwash everybody and they only publicize what they are going to get the best reaction from and that's the pit bulls," said another resident.

State law does not allow counties to ban certain dog breeds, but Sharief had asked her colleagues to consider asking the state legislature for an exception. She wanted to ask the state for "home rule control," though the final decision would ultimately be made by the county commission or by putting it to a vote within local municipalities.

Sharief will instead bring together a group of Broward residents and animal experts to discuss solutions to the pit bull attacks that have occurred in her district.

During the meeting, commissioners approved a measure directing the county attorney to draft an amendment to the Broward County Animal Care & Regulation Ordinance; revising and expanding "fighting dogs" definitions to include teaching a dog to fight; imposing a fine of $500 for "teaching" a dog to fight; adjusting the fine for "fighting dogs" from a sliding scale to a standard $500 per occurrence; adjusting the fine for non-vaccinated dogs from a sliding scale to a standard $300 per occurrence; and, adjusting the fine for non-licensed dogs from a sliding scale to a standard $300 per occurrence.

Miami-Dade County is the only county in the state that has a ban on pit bulls. Since the county passed the law in 1989, Miami-Dade was grandfathered in and therefore does not violate the state law.

Miami-Dade County voters reaffirmed the ban in 2012. Only 30 percent of voters said that the breed ban should be repealed.

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