Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief: Common Sense Solution Needed for Pit Bulls

Sharief, who will present her proposal to the County Commission Tuesday, said she doesn't want to ban all pit bulls

By Justin Finch
|  Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013  |  Updated 6:52 AM EDT
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Once Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief presents her pit bull legislation, she hopes it will clear up some confusion. After a rash of recent pit bull attacks in Broward, Sharief said the county needs a common sense solution. Sharief andpit bull owners Jeff Mederos and Zharel Silva comment.

Once Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief presents her pit bull legislation, she hopes it will clear up some confusion. After a rash of recent pit bull attacks in Broward, Sharief said the county needs a common sense solution. Sharief andpit bull owners Jeff Mederos and Zharel Silva comment.

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Once Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief presents her pit bull legislation, she hopes it will clear up some confusion.

"I've heard people say, 'oh, Commissioner Sharief wants us to ban all pit bulls, and get rid of our pit bulls.' No, that's simply not the case," explained the commissioner, who represents a district stretching from Miramar to west Hallandale Beach.

After a rash of recent pit bull attacks in Broward, Sharief said the county needs a common sense solution, most recently after two pit bulls mauled 76-year-old Walter Roach in Miramar. Following two years of listening tours with her constituents, she got to work on drafting her proposal.

"The only way I could get it before the Legislature was to address the statewide ban," said Sharief, who will present her proposal to the County Commission Tuesday.

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Given that state law does not allow counties to ban dogs by breed, odds are low a full ban will happen in Broward. The reason why the ban holds in Miami-Dade County is because of a grandfather clause, and a countywide vote of support last August for the measure, which was first passed in 1989. Though that ban makes owning pit bulls illegal in Miami-Dade, opponents of the legislation point out that many work around that law.

"You go to every house in Miami-Dade County, they call it the Staffordshire, or they call it a different kind of dog, but they still have them," pit bull owner Jeff Mederos said.

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Commissioner Sharief's proposal includes those breeds, and calls for so-called home control, which would permit Broward cities to take up their own votes on pit bull bans.

"Good legislation doesn't just go after one breed," said Zharel Silva, a pit bull owner living in Sharief's Pembroke Pines district. He opposes the commissioner's proposal, which could make owning his pit bull, Mambo, expensive.

Under the legislation, current owners could keep their pit bulls, but would face fines for housing extra ones. Owners who fail to register or vaccinate their dogs could face a $300 fine. Those caught training a dog to fight could receive a $500 fine.

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