Hollywood Asks State for Permission to Ban Pit Bulls

As Broward County reels following yesterday's announcement that it may soon follow Miami-Dade's lead and ban the ownership of pit bulls, the City of Hollywood has asked the state for permission to take similar legislative action against the animal.

Just in case the Hollywood City Commission decides it wants to do so.

"Residents at a recent City Commission meeting expressed concern about pit bull ownership in the city, and, right now, the city can't do anything on its own," said Hollywood spokesperson Jamie Hernandez. State law trumps city ordinances, he said, and Hollywood can't move on any ownership issue or smoking ban unless it first gets Tallahassee's permission.

See also:
- Broward County May Ban Owning Pit Bulls

- Pit Bulls Much Less Aggressive Than Other Breeds, Study Says

But before Hollywood moves on anything, he said, the city will wait to see what Broward County does.

On Thursday, Barbara Sharief, vice mayor of the Broward County Commission, proposed a ban on owning pit bulls, imposing a $500 fine for every occurrence in which the ban was broken. She also proposed fining pit bull owners $300 if the animals weren't properly vaccinated.

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

Hernandez said, as of now, the Hollywood City Commission hasn't proposed any bills that would ban pit bulls in the city limits. But, he said, if the city successfully lobbies the state for the ability to enact such legislation, that may change.

"I'm not saying the city is interested in banning pit bulls, but it wants the ability to implement a ban on pit bulls, if it decides to do so."

According to Hollywood's 2013 legislative priorities, however, it seems as though that decision's already been made.

"Changing statutes would allow municipalities to enact their own ordinance that treats specific breeds of dogs (particularly pit bull terriers or their derivations which have previously shown a predisposition towards aggressive behavior) differently from other breeds," the proposal says.

It continues: "Recently publicized events involving attacks on people by these or similar types of dogs have prompted the need to address this public safety concern more effectively."

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

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

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Terrence McCoy