Miami-Dade Pit bull ban remains in place

Published On: Aug 30 2012 04:20:52 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2012 03:17:38 PM EDT

An ordinance banning Pit bulls in Miami-Dade County was not repealed by voters Tuesday.

MIAMI -

An ordinance banning Pit bulls in Miami-Dade County was not repealed by voters Tuesday.

Pit bull supporters gathered at the Miami Lakes Ale House to wait for the votes to be counted.

Members of the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation have been working for the past five years to get to this moment, hoping the breed ban in Miami-Dade County would be repealed.

They chanted, "Yes to Pit Bulls in Miami!"

But the votes would not be in their favor. However, all was not lost as more than 30 percent of county voters cast their ballots in favor of allowing the breed to legally live in Miami-Dade.

"It is unbelievable that this thing has not gone through," said Dahlia Canes, leader of the Miami Coalition.

Pit bulls, known as a bully breed, were outlawed more than two decades ago, after a series of attacks, including the one that maimed Pilar Garcia's daughter back in 1989.

"I definitely think for all the safety of all the citizens here in Dade County, we have been safe for 23 years in any pit bull attacks," Garcia told Local 10 in July.

Pit Bull supporters feel voters are missing the point.

"A dog is not inherently dangerous, a dog is not born a bad dog," says Diego Martinelli, Board Member of the Miami Coalition.

Most of the people Local 10 spoke to who want the ban repealed feel dog owners are to blame when it comes to out of control dogs, and not the animal itself.

"We're fighting not just to get this ban repealed but we're also fighting to make stricter laws to punish bad dog owners," says Adri Lopez, also of the Miami Coalition.

And even though the ban was not repealed by the public, more than one-third of voters who came out to cast their ballot in Miami-Dade did vote to legalize the dogs in the county -- a big step in the right direction according to Canes.

"This organization will not give up until the ordinance from Miami-Dade County is repealed. We will fight and we will win," Canes said.

Miami-Dade County Services Department Director Alex Muñoz issued a statement Wednesday, saying: "The Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department respects the will of the electorate and its decision yesterday to not repeal the “Pit Bull” ban.  We are certain many individuals will continue to be in disagreement with this breed specific legislation that prohibits ownership of these dogs.  We want the public to know that while this ban continues, the department will continue to work with rescue organizations and adopters to find new life-long homes for “Pit Bulls” outside of Miami-Dade County."

The next step for the Miami Coalition as of Wednesday morning is to take their demands to the county commission, hoping for a legislative change. If that doesn't work, Tallahassee is next.

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