Earlier this week, there was a story that was fairly highly publicized that supervisers in Miami-Dade County have expressed concern over apparently a growing number of 'pit bull' owners who are registering thier dogs as service animals. Federal rulings governing service animals would trump the local 'pit bull' ban, providing a 'loop hole' for these owners to skirt the ban.
Investigator supervisor Kathy Labrada said it's a challenge to verify what is or is not a service animal because there are no specific rules that are required for certification - -making it even more difficult for the county to enforce its ban.
Pit Bull bans conflicting with the Americans with Disabilities Act's comments on service dogs is not new. Currently, the cities of Denver and Aurora Colorado are both dealing with similar issues in the form of legal suits in those cities.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade's focus on this problem shows that they completely lost sight of the true end goal -- which was originally, supposedly, public safety. So if public safety is the real issue (and why they supposedly have the ban in the first place), why are they wasting time and taxpayer dollars trying to figure out what to do about their problem of non-aggressive service animals?
The reality is that Miami has completely lost their focus on improving public safety -- and because of their ban, are completely wasting their time and resources dealing with their 'pit bull' ban.
In the past 9 months, the county has responded to more than 700 calls for pit bull investigations. Labrada notes that many of these complaints are completely unfounded because the dogs end up being other breeds other than 'pit bulls'. This is time, and animal control resources getting wasted dealing with non-aggressive dogs in the community that could be used to deal with cruelty cases, stray dogs, and truly aggressive animals -- to the tune of three wasted calls each day.
Even though the community has had a ban for over 20 years, last year the city still impounded more than 700 pit bulls - -killing most of them -- even though if the law had been enforcable the city would have been free of pit bulls years ago -- which doesn't appear to be at all the case. Meanwhile, I still am not sure how the county is enforcing their breed ban at all after last year a judge ruled that their enforcement for the definition of a 'pit bull' was unconstitutionally vague. The judge ruled that the law is "improper and must be invalidated immediately. The ordinance is unconstitutional, implemented inconsistently, selectively and results in capricious and arbitrary results."
While the city wastes resources dealing with non-aggressive dogs, their shelter continues to kill around 23,000 pets each year with a horrific 62% kill rate, and the has a much higher per capita bite rate than neighboring (and ban-less) Broward County.
Yip, those service dogs sure are the county's biggest problem.
Miami continues to focus their efforts on the wrong things...letting the impossibility of enforcing the county's 21 year old breed ban become a major distraction from everything that is really important. Hopefully, eventually, they'll figure it out.
For more: Fully Vetted - Pit Bulls in Miami-Dade Find a Loophole, But is it Fair?