Miami-Dade Residents Vote to Keep Pit Bull Ban Tuesday

Voters kept the ban in place

Miami-Dade voters kept the county's 23-year ban on pit bulls in place on Tuesday.

A total of 63.29 percent of respondents had cast ballots to keep the ban intact and only 36.71 percent had voted to repeal it with all of the 829 precincts reporting.

The group that wanted to see the ban on the dogs repealed said they are not disappointed in the results.

"It doesn't matter. It doesn't scare me. I will keep on fighting for my dogs today, tomorrow and to the end," said Adri Lopez.

Dahlia Canes, who lead the effort to overturned the ban, said they did better than expected. But others said the dogs were dangerous.

"I don't have anything against animals," said Oscar Gomez, a father of three who voted to keep the ban on pit bulls. "They're dangerous to be out there."

On the other side was Umireardo Rodriguez, who wants to allow the breed as pets again in Miami-Dade.

"When you pet it, or have a tame one in your house, they're just like any other animal," he said in Spanish.

While Canes played with her pit bulls outside her Hialeah home, she told NBC 6 South Florida her pet couldn't be sweeter.

"Just because a dog is born of a specific breed, does not make it inherently dangerous," Canes said. "Any dog can bite."

Canes loves pit bulls, but hates the bad reputation that comes with them. She said they are discriminated against. She's had two pit bulls for a couple years now – even though it's been illegal in Miami-Dade County since 1989.

"Yes, I am breaking the law by having two pit bulls in my house," Canes said.

"And you don't care?" a reporter asked her.

"They're my family," she answered. "I will defend them."

The ban became law because of Melissa Moreira. When she was seven years old, her neighbors' pit bull nearly killed her in an attack.

With her scars still visible, she told NBC 6 she does not want the ban repealed.

"My entire forehead was ripped off because of the way their jaw comes down, so that's why they're arguing discrimination, but that dog has that," Moreira said. "I'm not afraid of other dogs because if you see a poodle on the street, what damage is he going to be able to do to me versus having your face torn off by a pit bull?"

Miami-Dade commissioners had voted 3-1 to allow the 1989 ordinance to go before voters. Commissioner Barbara Jordan was the sole vote against putting the issue on the ballot.

If the repeal had been approved, the county would have joined the rest of Florida in prohibiting breed-specific laws.

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Now 31 years old and a dog owner herself, Moreira believes her near-death experience and the law she inspired may have saved lives and is afraid of what may happen if it's reversed.

"My fear is that is Dahlia and all her supporters are able to repeal the ban, that something is going to happen to a kid and they're going to go through what I went through," Moreira said.

But, Canes argued, the repeal could save lives.

"This breed has been killed for 23 years too long because of misrepresentation," Canes claimed.

The ballot question asked residents if they wish to allow the breed to legally reside within the county.

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