Broward commission tables pit bull ban
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The Broward County Commission voted to table a pit bull ban during a heated hearing, Tuesday. Commissioners also passed a motion to impose a fine on owners who train their dogs to fight.
The day began with a peaceful protest outside the commission building. Demonstrators on both sides of the debate marched in circles and held up homemade signs near the building's entrance. "Punish the deed, not the breed," said Paul Letterman, an opponent of the ban who brought his dog along to the protest. "Punish the people who do harm to animals, as far as the dogs, leave them alone," he continued. "More people die at the hands of [people engaging in] gun violence and hit-and-run accidents in Broward County than they do from pit bull attacks or bites," said Ana Campos, another opponent of the ban.
Inside the chambers, pro-pit bull advocates and supporters of the ban waited for hours as commissioners worked on county business. When commissioners announced they would break for lunch, the crowd erupted into chaos. Several supporters stood up and began screaming at commissioners. "What are you afraid of?" yelled a man.
"Everyone came out for a purpose, and they're stalling us, so we leave," another frustrated citizen said.
For Diane Ratner, opposing the ban was a personal matter. "My father did not fight for the United States of America so that they could take away my right to own a dog," she declared.
Things calmed down after the commission reconvened. Fifty-nine opponents of the hotly disputed motion to ban pit bulls took to the floor. "I've marched, and I've voted for civil rights in the sixties, and now I find myself doing the same thing in 2013 for the pet that I love," said a middle-aged woman.
"Let's make no mistake about it," stated a younger woman, "those dogs that are running loose are not the majority of pit bulls. It's media hype that's giving you that stereotype."
Most of the Broward residents who attended were against the measure to pass the pit bull ban, but a few supporters were also present. "This is the dog they killed," said Carol English as she held up a large photo of her dog Zoe. "This is my child, OK?" she continued, choking back tears.
English revealed she and her three dogs were attacked by pit bulls in December. Little Zoe was killed. "This is what they can do, this is what their jaws can do," English said as she held up a picture of Zoe's mangled body. "My hand was stuck [in their jaws] trying to get my dog out."
English was one of only two supporters of the ban who spoke out during the public hearing. It is already illegal to own the controversial breed in Miami-Dade County.
Commissioners ultimately voted to table the ban. The motion they approved directs the county attorney's office to draft an amendment to the Broward County Animal Care and Regulation Ordinance. The amendment revises and expands the definition of "fighting dogs" to include teaching a dog to fight. Owners caught teaching a dog to fight will have to pay a fine of $500. The amendment also stipulates that owners who do not spay or neuter their pets will also pay a fine.
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