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Broward County May Ban Owning Pit Bulls (UPDATED)

UPDATED, 2 p.m, Clarification: State law prohibits breed-specific bans regulating canines. Barbara Sharief's motion is for Broward to persuade the state Legislature to allow the banning of the breeds mentioned below. 

Nearly 25 years after Miami-Dade banned the ownership of pit bulls, Broward County may be next.

Barbara Sharief, Vice Mayor of the Broward County Commission, will introduce a motion today to make it illegal to "own and keep" American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers -- or any dog that may "conform" to a pit bull breed.

"This has a pretty good chance of being adopted," Sharief said. "I'm not asking for anything that's unreasonable. We have an issue with pit bulls in south Broward County."

Today's Update: Hollywood Asks State For Permission To Ban Pit Bulls

See also: Pit Bulls Much Less Aggressive Than Other Breeds, Study Says 

The motion says the action will hopefully ameliorate "on-going incidents involving pit bulls and other dangerous dogs."

Sharief said animal centers have reported more than 270 incidents of roaming pit bulls in Broward County since 2011. "Recently, there have been repeated attacks related to pit bulls both on people and animals," the motion says. "However, this trend has [also] occurred in areas in Broward County."

"We don't want to make owning pit bulls a criminal offense, but people need to be fined so people comply," Sharief said. "People won't comply if it's something they can pay easily."

Sharief wants to revise and expand fighting dog" definitions so that teaching a dog to fight would carry a fine $500 per occurrence. Currently, there is no penalty for teaching a dog to fight in Broward County. The motion, if passed, will also slap anyone who doesn't vaccinate his dogs with a $300 fine.

Sharief said she recognized the combustible nature of the issue. The question of pit bull ownership has roiled Miami-Dade -- one of the few cities in the nation to outlaw pit bulls -- for decades.

"We're absolutely going to get backlash for this," Sharief said. "But we have more supporters than backlash-ers. And all I have to say to you is wait until it's your pet or your child that has been attacked. Those people have a totally different appreciation for the situation."

In October 2011, two children were attacked by pit bulls in Deerfield Beach. Then in May of last year, a pit bull attacked a 77-year-old man in Miramar.

The Broward County Commission will discuss the issue on February 26.

New Times will be updating this story as additional developments come in.

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