"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Pit Bull Ban in Miami-Dade County Forces Mark Buehrle’s Family to Settle Elsewhere

Mark Buehrle's left arm may have been greeted warmly down in south Florida this offseason, but the same can't be said for one of his family's four dogs.

According to the Miami Herald, "Slater" Buehrle, an 18-month-old American Staffordshire terrier, falls under a pitbull ban that has been in place in Miami-Dade County since 1989. That means the Buehrle family didn't have the option of moving anywhere close to the Miami Marlins' new ballpark after Mark signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the team last month.

Mark Buehrle, a dog lover who made headlines when he said he hoped Michael Vick would get hurt, avoided the ban by moving his family to a dog-friendly development in south Broward County. And while he says he wouldn't have signed with the Marlins if there had been no housing alternatives for Slater and the rest of his family, Buehrle still wants to speak up against the injustice of the ban.

From the Miami Herald:
Mark Buehrle believes "it's kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it. Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it'll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.''

Mark Buehrle grew up with cats, rabbits and fish, but got his first dog with Jamie. They married in 2005 and are spokespeople for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which accepted 22 of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's pit bulls.
The Buehrles have three other dogs — Viszlas named Diesel, Drake and Duke — and adopted Slater after Jamie fell in love with him during work with an animal rescue group. Judging from his festive getup in the picture above, he sure doesn't look too menacing.

As a dog lover who has admired Mark and Jamie Buehrle's work with "Sox for Strays" in Chicago, I agree 100 percent with the pitcher's stance. Without getting into a long drawn-out debate on the subject, the danger with pitbulls lies more with the responsibility of its owners and not the breed itself. There's absolutely no reason why a well-trained dog and its family should be discriminated against through government legislation.

The good news, of course, is that at least this tale has a happy ending. Though Slater and the Buehrles were forced to go live elsewhere, perhaps their story will help end a ban that causes a much bigger hardship for other families.

After all, not everyone who moves to Miami-Dade County for a job has the luxury of being able to choose where to live. The awareness the Buehrles are driving could prevent dog owners from having to make a decision they shouldn't have to in the first place.

Mark Buehrle pets a fan's dog at U.S. Cellular Field. (Getty Images)

By 'Duk | Big League Stew
Top photo: (US Presswire/Buehrle family photo)

If you live in Florida, contact your legislator today by
going to http://savefloridadogs.bestfriends.org for more information.

If you don't live in Florida you can sign the petition, go to:

Because of an archaic exemption in state law, Miami-Dade County is the only county in the entire state permitted to engage in canine profiling. Florida state legislators Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Jim Norman are leading an effort, with the help of Best Friends, to right this injustice and to repeal the portion of the Florida statute that allows Miami-Dade to kill dogs simply because of their appearance. No other county in Florida is allowed such unmitigated power over people's pets.

Last year, with help from you and other dog lovers in Florida, we were able to repeal the automatic dangerous dog classification that discriminated against any dog rescued in a dogfighting bust. Now it is time to put an end to ALL canine discrimination in Florida and make the Sunshine State a model of humane public policy.

Despite being over 20 years old, Miami's canine profiling still causes the needless, senseless and unjustified confiscation and killing of hundreds of innocent dogs every year, proving that breed discrimination does not make communities safer, and is impossible to enforce. It's also a waste of tax dollars. Nowhere else in Florida can certain breeds of dogs be summarily killed simply because of their appearance.

To correct this injustice, we need your help. Please reach out to your state legislator and urge him/her to support the repeal of Miami's archaic and inhumane breed-discriminatory legislation (BDL). If you live in Miami, please ask your state legislators, in both the House and Senate, to co-sponsor the repeal bill that will remove Miami-Dade County's exemption from the statewide BDL prohibition.

Your legislator needs to hear directly from you that you want to live in and be part of a safe, humane community and state. Tell your legislator that this problem has an easy solution: Support HB 997 and SB 1322.

By repealing the canine profiling provision, Miami-Dade will have the opportunity to embrace proven methods for building a safer, more humane community. We need YOU to help Best Friends save pets.

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