Senate Bill 1276 passed by a 9-2 vote in the Community Affairs committee on Thursday, March 4th. This bill falls just short of allowing breed bans to be implemented at the local level in the state of Florida. It allows local governments to impose unreasonable and breed-specific requirements such as: purchasing $1,000,000 liability insurance, mandatory spay/neuter, muzzling when outside, or building 14 feet privacy fences or industrial kennels. Local governments impose these requirements based solely on breed, not based on whether or not the dog is actually vicious or has run at large. They are not intended to help people keep their dogs -- they are intended to force people to get rid of them.
This doesn’t just affect the American Pit Bull Terrier; it will affect German Shepherds, Rottweillers, Dobermans, Chows, Akitas, Cur dogs, Mastiffs... whatever the city council decides is inherently dangerous or vicious.
Will this affect your hunting dogs or ranch dogs? ABSOLUTELY. Virtually any stocky, short-haired dog will be at risk of being accused of being a "pit bull," and it is up to the owner to prove otherwise.
Please call your Senator now…you can find your Senator by going to www.flsenate.gov. Senate Bill 1276 is now moving into the Agriculture Committee of the Senate. I urge you to please take moment of your time to write or call this small committee of five (please see below). It is imperative that the residents of the State of Florida stop this bill. A companion bill (HB543) sits awaiting movement in the House. These bills are a very real threat to pet ownership of any dog.
What is wrong with letting local governments decide?
Having a patchwork of local laws harms tourism and limits the freedom to move within Florida.
Travelers will be afraid to travel in the state, not knowing which of our counties have breed restrictions. This includes:
- Families who travel with pets.
- Pet owners taking their dogs to or through certain cities for medical care.
- Participants in dog shows, tracking, herding, agility and other competitions -- Cities in Florida will have difficulties attracting large events, with the risk of dogs being seized.
- Hunters, many of whom use bull breeds to legally hunt the invasive and damaging feral hog.
- Handlers of assistance dogs, therapy dogs, search & rescue dogs, tracking dogs, police dogs, and military dogs. All kinds of dog breeds and mixes serve in this capacity.
- Search and rescue teams. Search teams will avoid traveling through or going into certain areas, which slows down disaster response. Out of state teams will hesitate to come to Texas when needed for large disasters, such as hurricanes.
Even if a law allows working dogs or dogs in transit a defense from prosecution, no one wants to risk having a beloved family pet, show dog, or highly trained working dog seized and impounded pending a hearing from a judge.
Other states allow it, why not Florida?
Thirteen states other than Florida prohibit breed-specific legislation (BSL) at the local level. Recently, many cities have decided against or scrapped existing breed-specific ordinances. For example, in September, 2008, the city of Brighton, CO decided against a breed-specific ordinance and issued a report stating, "...although the number of pit bulls has increased following the institution of bans in neighboring communities, vicious dog incidents involving the breed [in those communities] have not." (source: Brighton Standard-Blade, 9/18/2008). The Netherlands repealed their 25-year old breed ban, citing no increase in public safety.
It's not unusual for certain aspects of daily life in Florida to be uniform at the state level. The penal code is uniform at the state level. The ability to buy and sell alcohol is governed locally, but the drinking age and drunk driving laws are made at the state level.
The culture of Florida has a unique respect for individual and property rights. It is un-Floridian to limit where Floridians may move and own whatever property they choose, because of a very small number of dog owners who are irresponsible.
Don't be fooled by the argument: "BSL is not burdensome in other states because...."
"There is a grandfather clause -- you don't have to get rid of pets you already own."
- In other states, breed bans have been passed with no grandfather clause. This means that families must either break the law, get rid of their pet, or face financial hardship by moving.
"You can keep your dogs, they will just need to be muzzled in public."
- Muzzling will take away security for millions of people, especially women, who have come to depend on the crime deterrent of a large dog when walking or jogging. This security is the difference between going outside and getting exercise or staying indoors.
"You can keep your dogs, you will just need to get a certain type of fence."
- Breed-specific laws are based on what an animal looks like rather than on the animals' behavior and needs. Asking the owners of certain dog breeds to comply with expensive and unnecessary fencing requirements does nothing to protect the public from truly aggressive animals.
Committee of Agriculture
Phone calls are recommended -- e-mails may get deleted. Please be brief, polite and respectful.
Charlie Dean, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 487-5017
Larcenia Bullard, Vice Chair email@example.com (850) 487-5127
Dave Aronberg firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 487-5356
Carey Baker email@example.com (850) 487-5014
Durell Peaden firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 487-5000
You can also go to NAIA Trust Capwiz Website and construct a letter to your Representative, Senator, or Governor.
This will take you directly to the site to construct your letter to send to your lawmakers regarding both House and Senate bills.