The laws governing ownership of pit bulls varies not only from state to state, but also from county to county. Florida is just one state that, as of 2012, continues to enforce breed-specific legislation—particularly pertaining to pit bulls. Know your locality's legislation and put your mind at ease.
Pit Bull Ban
Among dog owners, Florida's Miami-Dade County is recognized for a longstanding and controversial ban on pit bulls. In August 2012, voters opted to keep in place a ban on the breed that was enacted in 1989. Following the results of the vote and subsequent upholding of the ban, animal activists pledged to continue fighting the legislation that singles out the pit bull as a "dangerous dog."
Because of the county's size and population, Miami-Dade's pit bull ban is well publicized—but it isn't the only county in Florida with controversial legislation regarding the breed. For example, Putnam County came under fire in March 2012 for automatically euthanizing all unclaimed stray pit bulls. The sheriff's office was forced to abandon this unlawful policy after public outcry. Examples like this in mind, pit bull owners should research their individual county's legislation.
Dog Damage Liability
Florida state laws place blame for dog damage, such as attacks, on the dog's owner as well as the animal. If a dog bites a human or animal without provocation, for example, the dog will be impounded and the owner may be found guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. While this legislation is not breed-specific, the demonstrated public mistrust of pit bulls and their representation as dangerous dogs by the media make them an especially easy target for culpability in the event of a behavioral offense.
Licensing and Vaccines
Because pit bulls are relatively easily discriminated against, it is crucial that dog owners in Florida obey state and county legislation regarding their ownership. For example, state law requires that dogs sold in the state be up to date on tests and vaccines. Pit bull owners wishing to take their dogs to the beach must also be able to demonstrate proof of vaccinations and ownership. Check with your county clerk of courts for your area's specific requirements.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.