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One Strike Equals Death Row for South Florida Dogs

Posted by Humane Future On Monday, June 7, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Two dogs are currently on death row in Broward County, Florida for incidents involving the deaths of other dogs. On the surface this may seem like a case of dangerous dogs gone bad, but the situations are not so straightforward.

According to her owners, 10-year-old Husky mix Brandie was being walked on leash when an unattended and unrestrained miniature poodle rushed at her. In a split second, Brandie reacted and the smaller dog was killed.

In Broward County, one incident like this and your dog can automatically be placed on death row. Broward's ordinance is tougher than Florida state law which allows a dog two offenses before receiving the death penalty.

The Dangerous Dogs Ordinance (Section 4-12) states that a Dangerous Dog is a dog that has done the following:
  • A dog that when unprovoked approaches a person in a menacing fashion or with an attack attitude.
  • A dog that has killed or caused the death of a domestic animal in one incident, while off the owners or keepers property.
  • Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, killed or inflicted severe injury on a human being on public or private property.
  • Has been used primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting.

Dozens of dogs have been put down as a result of the dangerous dog ordinance since it was implemented in May 2008.

Brandie's supporters have organized a rally for tomorrow morning:

Rally to Save Brandie

Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Time: 8:30am - 10:00am

Location: Broward Government Center Lobby
115 South Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Ed note: While I am so incredibly sorry for the owners of the dogs who were killed, I find this ordinance to be overly aggressive and wildly open to interpretation:

  • One strike with no attention given to extenuating circumstances - While the ordinance does state "unprovoked" attacks, this is not clearly defined. The lawyer contracted to review cases has always upheld the decision of Animal Control.
  • Lack of alternative options for dogs with no history of violence. - In Brandie's case, for example, why not require that she wear a muzzle at all times when she is off the owner's property?
  • "A dog that when unprovoked approaches a person in a menacing fashion..." - Who is making this allegation? This judgment can be affected by a person's previous negative experiences with dogs, fear of dogs, or simply a lack of knowledge about canine behavior. Yet your dog can be killed for a single report? What if you were having a dispute with a neighbor -- could a claim that your dog approached them in a "menacing manner" land your pet on death row?
  • A dog that has been used " part for the purpose of dog fighting." - If a dog is seized from a dog fighter, will it be put down without regard to temperament or adoption potential? The way the ordinance is written, it would appear so.

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