Earlier this week, Miami-Dad Commissioners voted 3-1 to put the county's breed ban up for a county-wide vote. The county has had a breed ban on 'pit bulls' for 23 years. Pressure on the county to repeal the ordinance has been mounting and was nearly overturned by the state legislature earlier this year. Miami-Dade is the only area of Florida with a breed ban as state law prohibits such legislation, but Miami was grandfathered in because their law preceeded the passing of the state-wide law.
The law will go before the voters on August 14.
While I would have loved for the state legislature to overturn Miami's law - -the voter initiative will be interesting to watch. I've been following this closely for the last 6-7 years, and I can't recall a city every having a vote on whether or not to have a ban on breeds. I think the outcome of the vote could have an interesting impact nationally.
While I won't begin to guess on whether or not I think the repeal will pass, I think there will be a lot of interesting dynamics.
1) I have long contended that I think public opinion about pit bulls is changing and that most people don't believe bans are a good idea. I think we may see this in the election as there will be a lot of passionate people pushing for a repeal of the law.
2) While there will certainly be a lot of people who wish to keep the law, most people will generally be apathetic. I don't expect strong opposition to the law -- and certainly not organized opposition that can match the strength/organization of the people pushing for the repeal. I also expect that there will be some national organizations that get involved, along with high-profile Jamie Burhle, that will help get a lot of positive support for the repeal.
3) Voeter turnout in August elections is notoriously pretty poor. The people who vote are either those who are passionate about an issue (which will help with the repeal) or the elderly who usually come out to vote (many of these people will likely be opposed to the repeal).
4) It may be hard to convince people that pit bulls are not bad dogs when most have not had the opportunity to meet a legally owned pit bull in more than 2 decades.
5) It's also important to note that the biggest opposition to th repeal is likely from the city leaders - -the city itself cannot legally wage a campaign opposing the repeal.
It will be interesting if advocates for the repeal can motivate people who generally support their cause to go to the polls to overturn the law. It would be an amazing feat after such a long time. I fully expct a lot of people to be watching this...and best of luck to our friends in the Miami are who I know will be working hard on this repeal.