HB 543 ALERT! Help fight BSL in Florida!

Florida state law prohibits municipalities from passing breed-specific legislation. HB 543 would remove that prohibition and make it possible for any municipality in Florida to pass BSL.

HB 543 has moved to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Committee.

Currently, Florida state law 767.14 prohibits municipalities from passing BSL. On December 28, Florida Representative Perry Thurston filed a bill which would remove this statewide protection. If HB 543 passes, any municipality in Florida could pass BSL or breed-specific bans.

The bill has not been placed in a committee yet. The bill status and text may be viewed here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=42937&BillText=dogs&HouseChamber=H&SessionId=64

As many of you may know by now the State of Florida has a statue in place since 1990 protecting cities and counties all across the State of Florida from passing BSL (767.14). For the past 2 years Representative Perry Thurston of Broward County, Plantation has made it his personal mission to overturn the very law that protects all breeds of dogs from all forms of discrimination in Florida. With that being said, this is not a Pit Bull issue anymore ladies and gentlemen; this could very well be the start of the largest scale BSL in history. Meaning, any city or county within the State of Florida has the right to discriminate against any breed of dog they want. Therefore, Rottweiler, Dobermans, American Bulldogs, Husky, Boxer, Chow Chow, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Akita or any other breed they wish to ban, can be and will be done.


Dear Committee Members,

To be useful, legislation must be effective, enforcible, economical, and reasonably fair. Recently, a bill HB 543 has been placed before the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Committee that would fail all of these tests. This legislation is motivated by fear and lack of relevant knowledge. .

The media and the inexperienced would have you believe that these breeds are vicious and should be prohibited. However, these very breeds as a whole have proven their stability and good canine citizenry by becoming Search & Rescue dogs, Therapy dogs working inside hospitals, professional Herding dogs and family companions for years.

Our Country was not founded on the restriction and punishment of the masses based on the actions of a few....when has this changed?

A five year study published in the Cincinnati Law Review in 1982, vol. 53, pg 1077, which specifically considered both Rottweilers and "pit bulls", concluded in part that:

"..statistics did not support the assertion that any one breed was dangerous, ..when legislation is focused on the type of dog it fails, because it is ... unenforceable, confusing, and costly. .. focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners."

In light of this and other studies, we urge you to take the following actions:

1. Reject the current legislation, which is contrary to fact and distracts from the real issue, that of responsible ownership.

2. Actively pursue legislation that would render owners liable for the actions of their pets, such as a good non-breed specific dangerous dog law.

We suggest that the appropriate policy should be "blame the owner, not the dog." Owners can and should take responsibility for their pets.

Bottom line: the legislation proposed will be unfair for responsible citizens and it addresses the wrong problem. Voting for this proposal as it stands only harms the law abiding responsible dog owner.

Please retract your breed specific bill/ordinance. Don't punish all of us responsible owners that maintain our dogs as companions and members of our families. We can and do maintain our dogs so they do not pose a threat to anyone. Why should we be denied our companions simply because irresponsible owners of the same breed of dog have not "ethically and legally" protected others from injury?


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