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Pembroke Pines wants to ban vicious dogs

City hopes to gain allies in its efforts

By Joe Kollin
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 25 2007

PEMBROKE PINES City officials have vowed to take a run at getting the state to let them ban breeds of dogs they consider vicious.

They may be barking up the wrong tree, however, if they expect support from other municipalities.

"I wouldn't be willing to open Pandora's box again," said Coral Springs Commissioner Vincent Boccard, who last year unsuccessfully sought support to get Tallahassee to let cities regulate breeds. "The dog lobby is pretty big."

Plantation Councilwoman Diane Veltri Bendekovic agreed.

"I applaud them for doing it, but it isn't the dog itself, it is the owner," she said. "Aggressiveness is a behavior dogs learn. Owners make them aggressive."

The state in 1990 passed a law forbidding local governments from adopting ordinances that are breed-specific. The law was a reaction to Miami-Dade County, which in 1989 banned pit bulls. The state allowed Miami-Dade's ordinance to remain in force.

Pembroke Pines commissioners last week unanimously agreed to take steps to win the right to restrict dogs by breed. They want Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint a panel of experts to study the possibility of breed-specific laws and would offer Pembroke Pines as a test city for the study.

Larry Smith of Hollywood, the city's Tallahassee lobbyist, suggested Pembroke Pines work with other cities because a solo effort would be useless. He said cities should parade victims of vicious dogs before lawmakers to show the need.

Commissioners agreed to try creating a coalition of cities.

"Collectively, as a group of cities, we need to put pressure on them," said Commissioner Iris Siple, whose daughter, Amy Siple, 29, was attacked by a neighbor's dog in May. She is still recovering from the German shepherd's bites and may need surgery.

Commissioner Angelo Castillo said South Florida cities and counties need to work together because northern Florida politicians "love their pit bulls" and are preventing regulation by breed.

"We in local office are unable to deal with the problem and Tallahassee doesn't have the political courage to deal with it," he said.

Getting support from other cities won't be easy.

Although Boccard in September won support for requesting the power to outlaw specific breeds, the Coral Springs commission backed down a month later under pressure from dog owners.

"I was e-mailed from around the world," Boccard said. "It isn't that we were intimidated, but we opted out."

Coral Springs instead created a task force to educate dog owners about how to work with animals.

Plantation adopted an ordinance to punish owners of vicious dogs of any breed two years ago, after a rash of dog attacks.

"We made owners responsible for their dogs," Veltri Bendekovic said. "I realize pit pulls do the most damage, but even a cocker spaniel can jump into a 4-year-old's face and do the same amount of damage."

The Broward County Commission in 2002 adopted a vicious dog ordinance that allows the muzzling and confinement of dogs declared dangerous.

http://www.sun- sentinel. com/news/ local/broward/ sfl-flbbaddogs06 25pnjun25, 0,7561094. story?coll= sfla-news- broward

CONTACT INFORMATION

Mayor Frank C. Ortis
954-435-6505
[email protected] com

Vice Mayor William B. Armstrong
954-436-3266
[email protected] com

Charles F. Dodge
City Manager
Ph: [email protected] com

City Clerk's Office
Judy Neugent, City Clerk
954-435-6501
[email protected] com

Commissioners:

Angelo Castillo
954-436-3266
[email protected] com
Carl Shechter
954-436-3266
[email protected] com

Iris Siple
954-436-3266
[email protected] com

Assistant City Managers
Martin Gayeski
954-437-1116
[email protected] com

Gordon "Skip" Keibler
954-431-4884
[email protected] com

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