Friday, July 16, 2010


The Miami Herald recently ran an article about “pit bulls”

Dear Board Members, Members and dog lovers:

The Miami Herald recently ran an article about “pit bulls” used as service dogs in Miami Dade County despite the ban on dogs that animal control officers believe look like “pit bulls”. We would like to clarify some statements made in the article and correct others.

Miami Dade County’s ban on these dogs was grandfathered in when Florida made it illegal to discriminate based on a dog’s breed. Dogs that look like pit bulls are protected elsewhere in Florida from discrimination based on breed.

Larry Steinhauser is quoted as saying the pit bulls he has seen are “aggressive”. Of course, we don’t know whether he has seen one or two or any “pit bulls”. People cannot look at most dogs and accurately determine their breed. Recently, in Denver Dr. Victoria Voith did a little test on animal shelter directors, dog trainers and others who work with dogs. They were asked to view 20 dogs on a videotape and identify each one by breed including whether the dog was a purebred or a mix. The professionals were surprised by how few dogs they identified correctly by breed. Voith believes as many as 75% of the pit bull identifications made by shelter workers, animal control or law enforcement are wrong. She is the author of Shelter Medicine: A Comparison of Visual and DNA Identifications of BREEDS of Dogs. As DNA testing becomes more reliable, it is proving that many of the dogs identified as pit bull are actually a mix of dozens of breeds with little or none of the DNA of pit bull type dogs.

That means a lot of dogs condemned by BSL are not even "pit bull" breeds.

In the last two legislative sessions pit bull bans like those proposed by Mr. Steinhauser were defeated. That is because legislators understand breed bans don’t work to make communities safe. Study after study has proven this. Dogs don't bite because of breed or appearance; they bite out of fear that could have been the result of poor socialization, neglect, abuse, tethering or confinement or isolation. In other words, it is the owner's negligent or criminal actions that are responsible, not the dog's breed or appearance.

Breed bans penalize responsible owners and mean the death of dogs that are not in any way dangerous. Breed discrimination is also very costly for communities. Think of it. It means taxpayers are paying animal control officers to run around and hunt down and kill dogs they think are pit bulls when we know even trained professionals cannot identify the breed of most dogs.

We would have like to see Mr. Steinhauser come to our Annual MCABSL BBQ Pit Event or Ernie Sims Pitbulls on Parade Event (in Tally). He would have the chance to meet dozens of Pit Bulls, Staffies and mixes and experience the true temperament and standard of these incredible dogs. We think if he had attended this event, he would have realized you can’t predict whether a dog may bite based on appearance or breed or what you think the breed may be. He also would have had a great time with some wonderful dogs!

The other person quoted in the article is Ms. Janet Severt, from New Horizons Service Dogs in Orlando, Florida, She is quoted as stating that although she disagrees with the ban she would never train a Pit Bull as a Service Dog. But remember the Center for Disease Control states: “There is no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.” In some “Bite Lists“ the top biters are Labs and Golden Retrievers which Ms. Severt recommends and trains as Service Dogs!

Again, it is not possible to predict whether a dog may bite based on appearance or some belief about breed.

There have been a number of Pits, Staffies and mixes who have been service dogs. There is Ruby who visited Hialeah Hospital and Ice Pop who constantly visits hospitals and has raised more than $10,000.00 dollars for charities by offering $1.00 per kiss…They were both rescued from inhumane conditions as pups. The list goes on...Pits, Staffies and their mixes make wonderful service dogs! Miami-Dade County’s recognition that pit bulls can be service dogs proves how illogical and irrational the breed ban is. And how tragic for the dogs and the people who love them.


Dahlia Canes~Edel Miedes-Directors
The Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation.
(305) 323~3960

for more information please contact the dept. ADA info line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383


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