Even if dozens of party primaries don't get your blood pressure up, there's one compelling ballot item that should drive you to the polls today: For the first time since 1989, Miamians have a chance to strike down one of the nation's dumbest laws. Dade's pit bull ban has got to go.
"This thing has got to go down today," says Dahlia Canes, the pit bull activist who's led the push to kill the legislation. Click through for the five biggest reasons you should punch YES to repeal the ban.
5. Everyone who knows anything about animals is against it
Here's what the American Veterinary Medical Association recently told the Miami Herald about pit bulls: "Controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous." They're joined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association, and the Humane Society in opposing pit bull bans. If that's not enough expert opinion, consider this:
4. PETA supports the ban
If the only group still standing behind a law is the same one that has compared dog breeders to Hitler and meat production to Jim Crow-era lynching, and routinely exploited the Holocaust to bully people into vegetarianism, you should oppose that law by definition.
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3. Reactionary legislation always sucks
Good public policy happens after a thorough study of the facts and an unemotional debate. Bad laws happen when politicians try to quickly capitalize on a horrible tragedy, like a 7-year-old girl getting mauled by a pit bull back in 1989. Legislators at the time gave little thought as to how to enforce such a law or whether pit bulls were actually more dangerous than other breeds, all because TV cameras were pointing their direction after the sensational crime. We've had 25 years to study the issue, and the facts are clear: The ban is bad policy.
2. The ban is expensive
Miami-Dade hasn't released exact figures on how much its Animal Services Department spends every year enforcing the ban, but one employee making at least $30,000 a year works full time responding to reports and coordinating confiscation efforts, Canes says. Then there's the cost to euthanize hundreds of pit bulls (many of whom already had homes our could have found them) every year -- in 2008, for instance, the county confiscated 802 of the dogs and killed at least 650 of them.
1. The ban is impossible to enforce
If all of those reasons aren't enough for you to vote yes today to strike down the ban, consider that the damn thing doesn't even work. Why not? First, the county has no real means of testing what dogs are pit bulls and what aren't. Essentially, Animal Services workers use the ol' "pornography test": If it looks like a pit bull, it must be a pit bull. Then there's the fact that none of Miami's neighbors has a ban, so thousands of owners -- including Miami Marlins pitcher Mark Buehrle -- simply move to Broward or Monroe to keep their pets. Even for the tens of thousands of pit owners who risk it and stay in Miami, the ban is unenforceable on any kind of large scale. Unless Dade wants to hire hundreds of goons to comb the streets day and night, tens of thousands of pit owners will keep owning their dogs in the 305, even if this dumb law survives today's vote.