From Teresa Chagrin, Animal Care and Control Specialist, Cruelty Investigations Department, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals:
November 11, 2016
The Honorable Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County
Members of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners
Via e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mayor Gimenez and Members of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners:
We hope this letter finds you well. I am writing on behalf of PETA, the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide, approximately 25,000 of whom live in Miami-Dade County. We’ve been contacted by residents concerned about an ordinance being considered on November 15, 2016, that proposes to remove current restrictions on those who keep pit bulls.
We believe current law better protects animals—including pit bulls—and people in the community, and we and our membership are opposed to the proposed ordinance.
“No one can deny that the pit-bull problem is breed-specific”
Miami-Dade voters upheld the county’s pit-bull regulations in a landslide 2012 ballot vote. No one can deny that the pit-bull problem is breed-specific, which is why targeted programs and exceptions are made for this breed in communities across the country. Breed-specific protection laws have nothing to do with “discrimination” and everything to do with protecting this most commonly bred and abused type of dog. The reality is that pit bulls and pit-bull mixes constitute a disproportionate number of discarded dogs in animal shelters across the country and are overrepresented in cruelty-to-animals cases.
“When enforced, pit bull laws work”
When adequately enforced, pit bull–specific protection laws work: Two years after a temporary spay/neuter requirement for pit bulls was passed in Ypsilanti, the director of operations at the Humane Society of Huron Valley thanked officials for making the law permanent: “We’re very, very happy with the results and we want to see it continue. We love this breed and we don’t [want] to euthanize them anymore” [emphasis added]. In Aurora, Colorado, officials reported that after nine years of enforcing an ordinance that bans pit bulls in the city, bites involving the breed were down 73 percent, complaints and requests related to them were down 50 percent, and euthanasia of pit bulls was down a whopping 93 percent. Unfortunately, the ordinance in Miami has gone largely unenforced, but if that changed, it could produce similar results.
“PETA supports legislation to protect pit bulls”
PETA supports legislation to protect pit bulls, because our office receives calls on a daily basis about ones who are neglected and abused. Many, not surprisingly, “retaliate” by attacking, injuring, and sometimes even killing people and companion animals. In March, a 66-year-old Leesburg woman died after a pit bull she had had since the dog was a puppy attacked her, causing such severe injuries that bones were exposed. The dog had to be shot by first responders.
Just days before Christmas in 2015, a 2-year-old girl in Miami-Dade County was killed by her father’s pit bull–type dog in a hallway at his home while visiting for the holidays. The family had to start an online campaign to raise the money needed for her funeral.
In October of the same year, a 91-year-old Miami-Dade woman was found clinging to life in a pool of blood after she was attacked by three pit bull–type dogs at her home. She died at the hospital, and an autopsy report revealed that “[t]he skin of the scalp and most of the face [was] absent” and that bone was exposed on portions of her face. She also sustained multiple rib fractures, lacerations to her liver and lungs, and contusions to her liver, lungs, and heart in the violent attack. Cases like these occur across the country on a regular basis.
Annals of Surgery
It’s well established that pit bull bites are far more severe than those of other dog breeds. The April 2011 issue of the medical journal Annals of Surgery published a report by doctors and nurses at University Hospital in San Antonio who examined 15 years of medical records of patients with dog-bite injuries admitted to the hospital’s level-one trauma center. They found that attacks by pit bulls were associated with a higher risk of death, caused more serious injuries, were more likely to require hospitalization, and resulted in higher medical-care costs than attacks by other breeds. After examining national statistics, the authors reported the following:
One person is killed by a pit bull every 14 days.
- Two people are injured by pit bulls every day.
- One body part is severed and lost every 5.4 days as a result of pit-bull attacks.
The report (attached) concludes, “These breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated.”
“No one blames the dogs themselves for the current crisis”
Animal shelter workers across the nation see firsthand on a regular basis the mistreatment and neglect that pit bulls are subjected to. Infected wounds left untreated, eyes swollen shut and oozing blood and pus, broken or torn limbs left to “heal” without veterinary care, and ear-cropping “home jobs” are just a few of the atrocities that we often witness while working in our local community.
No one blames the dogs themselves for the current crisis, but it’s the duty of decent people who care about them to try to resolve it. PETA runs several mobile spay/neuter clinics in southeastern Virginia, and for years, we have sterilized pit bulls free of charge (1,045 in 2015 alone and more than 1,100 so far this year). While many people take advantage of our program, those who make money from breeding or fighting pit bulls have no motivation to do so and continue to breed these dogs while hundreds of others await homes in area shelters.
Some people won’t do the right thing unless the law requires them to.
Thank you for all your hard work for the citizens of Miami-Dade County. I can be reached at 443-320-1277 or TeresaC@peta.org if PETA can be of assistance.
Animal Care and Control Specialist
Cruelty Investigations Department
1Tom Perkins, “Ypsilanti Township Makes Pit Bull Spay/Neuter Ordinance Permanent,” 15 Jan. 2013, AnnArbor.com <http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/ypsilanti-township-makes-pit-bull-spayneuter-ordinance-permanent/>.
2Rachel Sapin, “City Lawmakers Uphold Aurora’s Ban on Pit Bulls,” 4 March 2014, AuroraSentinel.com <http://www.aurorasentinel.com/news/city-lawmakers-uphold-auroras-ban-pit-bulls/#sthash.5IThVxIH.dpuf>.
3Millard K. Ives, “Leesburg Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bull, Police Say,” 1 April 2016, DailyCommercial.com <http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/article_e4e175f0-54b0-5508-bede-35ef7529cefe.html>.
4Willard Shepard, “Girl, 2, Killed in Dog Attack in Miami-Dade,” 22 Dec. 2015, NBCMiami.com <http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Girl-2-Killed-in-Dog-Attack-in-Miami-Dade-363300681.html>.
5Local10.com, “Autopsy Report Reveals Graphic Details of 91-Year-Old Woman’s Body After Dog Attack,” 8 Oct. 2015 <http://www.local10.com/news/autopsy-report-reveals-graphic-details-of-91-year-old-womans-body-after-dog-attack>.
6John K. Bini, M.D., et al., “Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs,” Annals of Surgery, 4:253, Apr. 2011 <http://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Abstract/2011/04000/Mortality,_Mauling,_and_Maiming_by_Vicious_Dogs.23.aspx>.
- John K. Bini, M.D., et al., “Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs,” Annals of Surgery 4:253, Apr. 2011
- PETA Factsheet, “The Straight Scoop on PETA and Pit Bulls”
- John Nickerson, “Dog Bite Costs Stamford $290K in Settlement,” March 3, 2016, StamfordAdvocate.com
- Daniel Jackovino, “Pit Bull From Town’s Shelter Attacks Boy Who Receives 80 Stitches to Close Wounds,” 28 Oct. 2016, EssexNewsDaily.com
Tom Perkins, “Ypsilanti Township Makes Pit Bull Spay/Neuter Ordinance Permanent,” 15 Jan. 2013, AnnArbor.com <http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/ypsilanti-township-makes-pit-bull-spayneuter-ordinance-permanent/>.
Rachel Sapin, “City Lawmakers Uphold Aurora’s Ban on Pit Bulls,” 4 March 2014, AuroraSentinel.com <http://www.aurorasentinel.com/news/city-lawmakers-uphold-auroras-ban-pit-bulls/#sthash.5IThVxIH.dpuf>.
Millard K. Ives, “Leesburg Woman Mauled to Death by Pit Bull, Police Say,” 1 April 2016, DailyCommercial.com <http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/article_e4e175f0-54b0-5508-bede-35ef7529cefe.html>.
Willard Shepard, “Girl, 2, Killed in Dog Attack in Miami-Dade,” 22 Dec. 2015, NBCMiami.com <http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Girl-2-Killed-in-Dog-Attack-in-Miami-Dade-363300681.html>.
Local10.com, “Autopsy Report Reveals Graphic Details of 91-Year-Old Woman’s Body After Dog Attack,” 8 Oct. 2015 <http://www.local10.com/news/autopsy-report-reveals-graphic-details-of-91-year-old-womans-body-after-dog-attack>.
John K. Bini, M.D., et al., “Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs,” Annals of Surgery, 4:253, Apr. 2011 <http://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Abstract/2011/04000/Mortality,_Mauling,_and_Maiming_by_Vicious_Dogs.23.aspx>.