Pit bull owners, beware: Florida is trying to regulate so-called "dangerous breeds"

Once again, a handful of strident and easily terrified citizens has been given the power to inconvenience tens of thousands of responsible dog lovers simply by playing the public safety card. And, eventual outcome notwithstanding, lawmakers are already wasting time and money arguing over a law that is. Patently. Unenforceable. The people that mistreat or neglect their animals, or train them to attack, don't register their animals, and they're sure as hell not going to buy bad-dog insurance or shell out for a responsible-owner class.

Miami-Dade County has a 20-year-old ban on pit bulls that precedes the statewide prohibition of breed-specific legislation. And I'll bet anyone out there a case of Guinness plus travel expenses that I can drive to Miami and find half a dozen pit bulls inside of eight hours. Shit, the county court itself admitted last year that the ban, as is, can't really be enforced.

I am sympathetic toward those folks that, in whatever circumstances, have found themselves victims of a dog bite or attack. I think there's something to the idea of "genetic memory." I don't, however, believe in a "dangerous breed." I believe that individual animals are capable of unpredictable instinctive behavior, from chihuahuas to dachshunds to boxers to pits, and that positive attention and training can minimize aggressive traits in most dogs.

Some longtime CL readers may remember my occasional tales of Milo the White Trash Terrordog. Well, many have remarked that Milo has some pit bull in him; he's got a barrel chest and an anvil for a head. But Milo is about as dangerous as a freshly laundered pillowcase stuffed with perfumed cotton balls and Eskimo kisses, and I'm convinced his disposition is much more a product of nurture than nature. He was trained in the basics early and with love, he gets plenty of positive attention, and the only thing lethal about him is his flatulence.

I don't expect to be rewarded for teaching my dog not to bite people or kill cats. But I refuse to be penalized because a few misanthropes, incompetents and dudes who are way too into hip-hop can't or won't control their animals. By all means, punish them — I suggest subjecting them to a mauling by their own pets, Twilight Zone-style. Just don't punish every dog that looks like their dogs, or dog owners who know how to responsibly raise their pets.



The anti-pit bull forces are once again waging a fear campaign in the Florida legislature.

In 1990 Florida instituted a ban on breed-specific canine regulations. But for the third time in as many sessions, a bill proposing a repeal of the ban is working its way through the Senate. This time, it's already been passed by the state's Community Affairs Committee by a decisive 9-2 vote. While it reportedly stops short of naming pit bulls explicitly and prohibits outright bans, the proposed legislation could lead to stricter laws regarding "dangerous breeds," as well as increased expenses for dog owners.

So far, the legislation hasn't made too big a splash in the media because, you know, there's been so much else to be afraid of, what with the ground opening up and swallowing whole communities everywhere. But if nature settles down before we get to shark-attack season , the fear factory will need something to fill the gap, and I'm guessing we'll be subjected to another round of pit bull-related stories that pant like '50s true-crime mags:

HER GOOD BOY WENT BAD WHEN HE SMELLED THE FEAR ... Canine Killer Wagged His Tail As He Tore Out Her Throat!

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