Miami-Dade residents vote on pit bull ban
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- An important issue on the primary election ballot in Miami-Dade County involves the current ban on pit bulls in the county.
For the first time, Miami-Dade voters will have a say on whether or not the ban should be repealed.
Some community leaders believe that pit bulls are harmless and should be allowed to live within the county. They feel that the legislation against the canines is discriminatory. "There's definitely an owner responsibility and education issue," said Dahlia Canes of the Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation.
Tuesday morning, Canes cast her ballot in Hialeah to repeal the pit bull ban. "There are myths and legends about pit bulls," she said. "Just because a dog is born a specific breed does not make it inherently dangerous."
Miami-Dade commissioners placed the issue on the ballot. Commissioner Sally Heyman does not agree with the ban and feels that residents should be allowed to legally own pit bulls in the county. "What we're seeing more and more of is people demonstrating how kind their pit bull is, ironically with pictures of small children in play situations," said Heyman.
The ban was originally put in place 23 years ago, when Melissa Moreira was mauled by a pit bull in her driveway. She was just 8 years old at the time of the incident, but she still bears the physical and emotional scars of the brutal attack.
Moreira and others want the ban to remain in place. "[The pit bull] knocked me down and bit me on my forehead, scalp area, lip. I had the lip hanging, torn off," said Moreira.
Carlos Peruyera and his dog were also attacked by a pit bull. On Tuesday, he voted against the repeal. "My position is pretty self-evident. I'm a victim of that attack," he said. "I look OK, good, but I'm lucky, in essence. I'm a big guy; I'm over 6'3", 200 pounds. I defended myself off this thing. He was 80, 85 pounds, easy. Someone smaller, a woman, a child, is not going to be able to defend themselves off that."
Miami-Dade County is the only county in Florida with a breed-specific ban. Miami Marlins pitcher Mark Buerhle and his wife Jamie were forced to move to Broward County with their pit bulls. They believe the ban is discrimination. "They're going simply by the way that he looks, instead of judging each dog by his behavior," said Jamie Buerhle. "There are aggressive Labradors, there are aggressive chihuahuas, there are aggressive pit bulls."
The polls are open across South Florida until 7 p.m.
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