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New Florida law prohibits local bans on pit bulls, other large breeds

The state law stops county, city or municipal governments from banning specific dog breeds.
New Florida law prohibits local bans on pit bulls, other large breeds
Posted at 6:50 AM, Oct 03, 2023

Dozens of new laws went into effect in the state of Florida starting Sunday.

One of the new rules deals with specific breeds of dogs, making some changes to the existing "Dangerous Dogs" law in the state.

The change stops local governments like counties, cities and municipalities from banning specific breeds, including German shepherds or pit bulls.

Banning dogs because of their size or weight is out of the picture, too.

Jan Steele with Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control said this is a small step forward.

“These big dogs, bully breeds, they’re great animals, they’re very good family dogs,” she said. “They’re very devoted to their family. They’re just big, and scary-looking to some people.”

According to Steele, private landlords and homeowners associations can still ban certain dogs, so it can cause some uncertainty.

"It’s going to help," she said. "I don’t want people to think it doesn’t, but it is going to be very limited because it’s public housing and the municipalities themselves. If you allow pets at all, you should be able to allow all of them. These dogs are great dogs. If you’ve ever had a pitty mix, or German shepherd, or a great Dane, you know they’re great family dogs. Once they bond with families, they’ll be with you for life."

Before this new rule, a county could restrict people from having a dog over a certain weight or size if there were any safety concerns.

At least a dozen other states have gotten rid of their breed-specific legislation, according to stopbsl.org, a watchdog website on this topic.

“A lot of states are removing restrictions for breeds because we find out that a dog is a dog,” Steele said. “It doesn’t matter what breed it is. If they are treated well, they’ll be amazing family dogs. If they’re not treated well, they’ll have some trouble. If we take away this bias against bully breeds and large breeds and just look at them as a dog, they’re great. What makes them dangerous is people mistreating them. It is not the dogs themselves.”

Steele also said this could help alleviate some of the overcrowding at shelters if people are open to adopting bigger dogs, and they live in an area where the old ban is now lifted.

This story was originally published by Victor Jorges at Scripps News West Palm Beach.

SEE MORE: Why the UK is planning to ban this American dog breed


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