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No dog has a worse reputation than the pit bull Terrier. Many of the animals have been bred for fighting, so they have been banned in Miami-Dade County since 1989.
“Because of that, when people have to move then they have to surrender the dog, and it’s a very unfortunate situation for both the family as well as the dog,” Lisa Mendheim of the Broward Animal Shelter said.
Mendheim argues that pit bulls are “not dangerous dogs.” Instead, she says, problems arise because “they have irresponsible owners. All dogs bite.”
They are allowed in Broward County – as Mark Buehrle, the Miami Marlins’ splashy new pitcher, learned recently.
Buehrle, who signed a four-year, $58 million contract last month, bought a house in Broward instead of Miami-Dade so he would not have to part with his beloved pit bull, an 18-month-old American Staffordshire Terrier he adopted in Chicago. By living in Broward, Buehrle and his wife Jamie get to keep Slater in the family.
The Buehrles are animal advocates, and Mark Buehrle supports efforts to overturn breed-specific bans, like the one Miami-Dade has against pit bulls.
“They can do certainly a lot of damage, lot of jaw pressure, lots of muscles in those jaws – but most of the time they are provoked to do that,” Sharron Carmichael of the Humane Society of Broward County said. “Having responsible ownership of the dog is what needs to be done.”
Advocates such as Carmichael say the culture of pit bull ownership must change.
“You’ll see your gang member that holds the leash with one hand and holds his pants up with the other – just wants to show off his dog and fight with the other dogs in the street,” she said.
Statistics indicate what can happen when pit bulls are provoked: according to dogsbite.org, dogs killed 31 people in the U.S. in 2011, and 22 of those cases involved pit bulls.
Carmichael said “an unneutered male pit bull can be a loaded weapon,” which is why her group insists on them being neutered and spayed.
The Miami-Dade ban, both groups said, means that at any given time they each might have about a half-dozen pit bulls available to adopt in Broward County, because so many come in from Miami-Dade.
Carmichael, for one, likes Buehrle’s choice of location for a home.
“As a baseball fan, I’m happy to have him in Broward County,” she said.