Miami-Dade Animal Services Enforces Pit Bull Ban Based on Complaints

Voters decided Tuesday to keep the ordinance banning the dogs

Miami-Dade County says it will continue to enforce the pit bull ordinance after voters decided Tuesday to keep the county's ban on the dogs.

But Scott Gallagher, the chief Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department investigator, told NBC 6 South Florida that even dogs with similar characteristics could be banned as well.

“It has to do with the head, the ears, the muzzle, the eyes, the shoulders, the neck,” Gallagher said. “If the dog has 70 percent or more of the characteristics, that dog would be considered to be a pit bull dog under the Miami-Dade County code.”

A veterinarian or enforcement officer evaluates dogs against pit bull standards. They look at characteristics established by the United Kennel Club and American Kennel Club.

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The pit bull ordinance has been in effect since 1989, but 350 of the dogs were recovered by Animal Services last year. Only six investigators work cruelty cases and enforce the ordinance.

“When it comes to pit bulls, we are complaint-driven,” Gallagher said. “We do not drive around seeking out these animals to intentionally try to impound them because they are illegal.”

Alex Muñoz, the director of Animal Services, said his organization respects the will of the electorate and its decision not to repeal the ban.

"We are certain many individuals will continue to be in disagreement with this breed-specific legislation that prohibits ownership of these dogs," Muñoz said in a statement. "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 lifelong homes for 'pit bulls' outside of Miami-Dade County."

Miami Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle, who bought a home with his family in Broward County so they could keep their pit bull Slater, said he is not happy about Tuesday's vote.

He and his wife, Jamie, pushed for the ban to be overturned. But sixty-three percent of Miami-Dade voters chose to keep the ban intact.

Mark Buehrle said Wednesday that he thinks "there's a lot of ignorance out there" about pit bulls, and Jamie Buehrle said the vote shows that education about pit bull breeds and responsible pet ownership must continue.

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