Pit-bull ban should be struck down

Q. There are so many emotions swirling around the vote on Tuesday to repeal Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban that it’s hard to know what to do. Can you shed any light?

I’m happy to summarize some science on the subject and then offer my opinion.

In an exhaustive report on dog-bite prevention in April, the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded: “Owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with a strong breed stigma. However, controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, offering this statement: “There is currently no accurate way to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.”

The AVMA’s take is that dog bites “are preventable through training and responsible pet ownership. Unfortunately, many attempts to control dog aggression have been misguided and ineffective, including breed-specific legislation.”

In other words, not only does the nation’s leading veterinary organization conclude there’s no science to support breed bans, it actively opposes them for their shortsighted and counterproductive approach to dog aggression.

Local vets agree. In letter to the editor last week in The Miami Herald, Dr. Marc Kramer offered our South Florida Veterinary Medical Association’s position: The ban is costly and intrusive, and has been proven ineffective in reducing per capita dog-on-human violence.

When it comes to something as emotional as a maimed child, the voice of reason gets drowned out, but veterinarians are educated not just in animal medicine but in public health. So it’s my opinion that you should follow our lead and vote “yes” to repeal the ban.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami and blogs at www.dolittler.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.

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