A Fighting Chance For Fighting Dogs In Florida

Originally published

by Cheshire Kitten on 29 June 2011

in the Special World News section of The Anipal Times

A rescued pit bull terrier in a crate. BBC World Service
A rescued pit bull terrier in a crate. BBC World Service

My human picked a good time to visit Florida this year, that is a really good time for dogs. This week, Florida amended its laws on dog fighting to give police the option to save dogs that are taken from the humans who make them fight.

Florida’s governor signed SB 722 into law on June 21, according the the Florida Senate. Before June 21, all dogs seized from dog fighting operations were automatically considered dangerous and subject to restrictions and likely euthanasia. This included the active fighters and the passive dogs whose role is to stimulate the fighters. The new law redefines “dangerous dog” to recognize that all dogs trained to fight do not fit in that category.

Now, law enforcement officials and shelters have the option to evaluate the dogs as they are removed from the cruel conditions of a fighting operation to see if they can be rehabilitated and retrained.

Getting the bill through to be enacted as a law brought humans from all political persuasions together, ohmidog reported. Veterinarians supported it, as did animal welfare activists. Ledy Van Kavage, of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah, testified in the Florida Legislature in support of the Bill. “We have been working to remove the automatic ‘dangerous’ stigma from dogs and puppies seized from cruelty situations,” Van Kavage said.

Best Friends relies on research and experience that shows that breed doesn’t determine behavior and that fighting dogs can be trained to socially acceptable and service behavior and  is working to support changes in legislation around the country that designates pit bull terriers as dangerous or bans them.

State Rep. Luis Garcia, a Democrat from Miami Beach, has two dogs adopted from shelters, according to the Miami Herald.  The article also reports that pit bull terriers are banned in Dade County.

Legislative and news sources report that dog fighting is a growing problem in Florida, particularly in South Florida, but I was unable to find out how many dogs have been seized from fighting operations. A law enforcement source quoted in the Miami Herald said that dog fighters are so secretive that they are hard to catch and bring to justice.

Photo published under a Creative Commons license. Originally published by BBC World Service.

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