Miami’s Dangerous Dog Registry
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Although well intended, hurried legislation to further political agendas does not lead to sound public policy. Hence the BSL/BDL ban since 1989!! It would have been wise to consult with certified profession Miami dog trainers and behavior experts before slinging together a rushed, haphazard bill, which I might add was surreptitiously passed without voters’ approval. Just as the BSL/BDL laws were illicitly passed in 1989, behind closed doors without public consent.
It is easy to blame the voiceless; the Dangerous Dog Registry is mislabeled and should read Miami’s Dangerous Pet Parent Registry. One public example are Michael Vicks dogs, many who are now family, therapy and service dogs, would have all been on this list and would have been erroneously killed. Nonetheless, regarding the new dangerous dog bill, the Miami Herald opines, “The county already had most of the rules against dangerous dogs on its books, but it will now be easier for the public to access information online.” Which begs the question, if there was no substantial change to the law, how effective was this bill, to begin with?
Many Questions Still Outstanding
Here are just some of the many questions left unanswered with this new Miami “Dangerous Dog” online registry:
- Who are the individuals and organization responsible for researching each dangerous dog case to determine the dog bite and the incident? More importantly, what are their qualifications?
- What are the repercussions for the dogs in question? Most dog bites occur and stem from fear, which can be desensitized and counterconditioned (D/CC). Given that most dog behavior can be modified by a knowledgeable Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) who practices force free positive reinforcement, why should dogs be isolated or sent to solitary confinement or be killed? Alternatively, why not consider removing the dog from the negligent guardians “care”? Why punish the dog/s repeatedly when they are already being punished with a subpar relationship with their neglectful, abusive guardian?
- How does the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title, that has been around for decades, play a role in the ordinance if at all? If it does not play a role and is not even mentioned, why is this? This thoughtlessness highlights the ignorance of the policymakers, which gives me no confidence that this was a well thought out intelligent ordinance but one slapped together based on fear and ulterior motives.
- What are the unintended consequences of this bill? Will this ordnance dissuade people from adopting dogs, in particular ones with unknown pasts or histories of aggression? Isn’t this contrary to what the city now states, that it wants a No-Kill shelter? Doesn’t BSL/BDL also send a clear hypocritical, conflicting message that the politicians in charge are clueless? This paradox is glaringly detrimental to politician’s credibility.
- Blanket, sweeping, unintelligent, ill-thought-out statements such as “Current law also states that if a dog is declared dangerous, it must be confined if kept outdoors”… and ”Diaz’s bill would expand the term ‘confinement,’ requiring a dangerous animal to be kept in a pen or structure that children cannot enter, like a four-sided cage with a secured top.” These laws will only ensure a “dangerous” dog gets worse, not better, and does nothing to rescue a dog from an abusive owner. It ignorantly punishes the victim, not the guilty party. If a dog is a repeat offender, a judge could even decide to put the pet to death. Alternatively, how about getting qualified, educated dog professionals to help or removing the dog from the abusive guardian at some point before death is even discussed!?
- How is a dog bite handled that occurs from a threat or if a dog is provoked? How about if an owner is threatened or provoked and the dog was defending their family (the parent)? Does a dog not have the right to defend him/herself? There is a stand your ground law for humans but not for dogs? Does a human not have the right to defend him/herself? If, as a human, we defend ourselves, do we get our picture placed in an online registry, fined, placed in solitary confinement outside, in a concealed jail, or put to death? Who is the judge, jury, and enforcers of these “new and amended” laws and what are their skill levels and professional backgrounds? These enforcers better be a long time practicing board-certified veterinarian behaviorist, or there are some serious structural problems that need to be addressed. As Michael Rosenberg correctly stated, “But if it’s taunted, it’s not necessarily a dangerous dog,” said Rosenberg, “Humans have a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law; dogs should have it, too.” This highlights just some of the issues not preconceived before passing this law.
- Another troubling statement is, “Also Tuesday, the board voted 10-2 for a similar bill sponsored by Commissioner Sally Heyman that allows police officers to confiscate dogs they consider dangerous.” Am I the only one who sees the potential for the massive unjust, incarceration of anyone’s dog who is deemed “dangerous” by an untrained police officer who is not a CDBC, CPDT or behaviorist? Can a police officer confiscate your three-year-old child based on circumstantial evidence that he/she is dangerous? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty, or due process that is afforded to all humans being extended to other parts of your family, such as your pet! Since when are police officers and county workers experts in the fields of ethology and dog training? I would argue just the opposite is true and this is bad precedent and policy and sets the stage for intrusion and a breach of rights.
How is it that the commissioners and mayor feel they have sublime, godlike rights and powers to institute law without a vote by the general public as they erroneously did with enacting the faulty, discriminatory BSL/BDL ordinance, but when it came time for the commissioners and mayor to remove the rushed, poorly devised, hurtful BSL/BDL law, they adeptly eschew their responsibility, and cowardly passed their civic duty to the voters in a poorly worded last-minute ballot. This is a tragedy and hypocrisy at its greatest. Make up your mind Miami politicians! You can’t have it both ways without being seen for what you really are…
How can we keep electing officials so unfit for office and leadership? Miami’s Dangerous Dog Registry may have been a well-intended thought, but it is myopic and significantly short on details, which is unfortunately all too common for politicians. Sadly, I am sure they will all proudly point to this ordinance in their bids to be reelected.
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