Animal lovers across the globe united in outrage over the plight of Lennox, a dog euthanized in Belfast, Ireland, on Wednesday. Lennox was killed by authorities for being a dangerous "pit bull-type," despite his owners' pleas that he had never attacked anybody, and wasn't even a pit bull mix.
There's nothing wrong with a righteous cause célèbre, but it should be noted that there are plenty of Lennoxes in our very backyard -- hundreds of them. According to statistics obtained by Riptide, in 2012 Miami-Dade Animal Services has confiscated 181 dogs because they were suspected pit bulls, and euthanized 83 of them.
That's more than a dozen dogs killed a month since January. Pit bulls -- or any dogs suspected of being them, since there's no way to scientifically determine their breed -- have been banned in this county for more than two decades.
"Sometimes one incident gets worldwide attention," says activist Dahlia Canes, who's led a years-long quest to overturn the ban, of Lennox. "It positive for us because it's brought attention to the horrors of breed specific legislation."
The ban on pit bulls in Miami-Dade County, instituted in response to a 1989 dog attack, has been debunked as misguided, imprecise and expensive. The state of Florida has prohibited breed-specific laws, but Miami-Dade's ban is a grandfathered-in barnacle.
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In February, a bill that would have overturned the ban-- and had the vocal support of newly-signed Miami Marlins pitcher, and pit bull owner, Mark Buerhle-- was thwarted by Miami-Dade commissioners who wanted the issue put on a local ballot instead.
Animal lovers across the globe were helpless to save Lennox. But Miami-Dade County voters will have their chance to overturn our local ban-- and save thousands of dogs in the process-- in just over a month. The vote takes place on August 14.
"This is such a simple situation that should have been fixed a while back," says Canes. "It's euthanizing dogs based solely on what they look like. It's canine genocide."