TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A 30-year-old clause banning pitbulls from Miami-Dade might be put down, as a new bill surging through the legislature targets county restrictions on breed, size, and weight prohibitions for dogs.
Proposed by Sen. Alexis Calatayud (R-Miami), SB 942 prohibits counties and public housing authorities from constraining breeds, sizes, or weights of dogs in their ordinances, aiming to increase dog equality across the board.
“Breed restrictions are antiquated attempts to reduce liability in a community,” Calatayud stated. “Breed-specific legislation is not a tool for keeping communities safe.” She explained that according to the Center for Disease Control and the National Canine Research Council, a dog’s breed is not correlated to its propensity to attack a person.
However, the number of pitbull-related attacks say otherwise. From 2010 to 2021, 60 percent of all U.S. dog-bite fatalities were attributed to dogs with pitbull in their bloodline. As of January 2023, pitbulls and their mixes were responsible for 263 deaths of American children – more than any other dog breed.
Calatayud’s legislation also removes a grandfather clause in current Florida law. This clause allows counties who restricted certain dog breeds prior to 1990 to continue to do so. Only Miami-Dade and Sunrise qualified for this exemption, with Sunrise requiring muzzles for pitbulls, and Miami outright banning their ownership altogether.
HORROR OF 1989
One year prior to Florida’s 1990 “Dangerous Dog” law, seven-year-old Miami-Dade resident Melissa Moreira was mauled by her neighbor’s pitbull so severely that facial reconstruction surgery was required. The pitbull proceeded to attack her mother and grandmother, until it was shot and killed by another neighbor.
Following this brutal attack, Miami-Dade enacted a full ban on pitbull ownership. Because of the “Dangerous Dog” grandfather clause, it still stands today, with a 2012 poll demonstrating a continued 63 percent support for the pitbull prohibition.
Sen. Calatayud’s legislation has breezed through its committee stops, and is scheduled on the Senate floor next Wednesday. It has moved in tandem with its identical House counterpart, HB 941, and will likely pass the Florida legislature, earning it a spot on Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk.