Last week, Broward County Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief proposed a new bill that would make ownership of pit bulls illegal in Broward County. The law would have been opposed to the state law which prohibits breed-specific legislation so the city would have had to lobby the state to allow them to probibit pit bull ownership.
Sharief seemed very confident that the bill would be adopted, telling the Broward New Times: "It has a pretty good chance of being adopted. I'm not asking for anything unreasonable....We're absolutely going to get backlash for this, but we have more supporters than backlashers."
Well, Sharief appeared to be wrong in her assumptions.
First of all, the New Times did a nice job of posting a story with scientific data noting that "pit bulls' were actually less aggressive toward both their owners, and strangers, than many other breeds of dogs.
Then, there's the reality that her law was based on the Miami-Dade ordinance -- even though with the ban in Miami-Dade they had a significantly higher dog bite/per capita than Broward County had without a ban.
Then, in an informal poll (which isn't scientific, but is telling), 84% of a local news station's voters said they opposed a ban on specific breeds of dogs.
Then, there's the reality that there really wasn't much support for her proposal. Yesterday, with the hearing of the ordinance, there was a packed house at the Commission chambers and nearly 60 people showed up to speak at yesterday's hearing on the law, and nearly all opposed it. One councilman noted that he got more than 1000 emails opposing the law, and only 11 in favor. Opposition also included representatives from the Humane Society of Broward County.
So with the opposition, Sharief withdrew her propsal -- and noted to the New Times that she was "surprised it was met with such fierce opposition." She now plans to assemble a group of animal experts to discuss other possibilities outside of her proposal.
I'm not surprised at the opposition. This same opposition is met every time something like this is brought up because the science doesn't support breed specific laws, and there is an overwelming lack of professional support for them. Again, knowledge is power. And people and legislators who support breed-specific laws tend to not have the knowledge they need to make such a decision, or have gotten information from unreliable, non expert sources. Her proposal was shown to once again ignore the science, the knowledge of professionals in her community and not have the support of the majority of people in her community.
Congrats to the folks in Broward County, and hopefull the revised proposal is something far more reliable and impactful.