Miami-Dade voters will get a say for the first time on the county’s ban on pit bulls, after county commissioners agreed on Tuesday to put the 23-year-old prohibition on the August ballot.
Commissioners approved the referendum on an 11-1 vote, with Commissioner Barbara Jordan voting against. Commissioner Xavier Suarez was absent. Jordan has cautioned against lifting the county’s ban, which was imposed in 1989 after a pit bull mauled and disfigured an 8-year-old girl.
The push to put the question on the ballot, which was sponsored by Commissioner Sally Heyman, was prompted by Miami-Dade lawmakers who proposed legislation in Tallahassee earlier this year outlawing the county’s ban. The legislators dropped the proposal only after commissioners said they would prefer to hold a referendum rather than let the state undermine the county’s authority to deal with local matters.
“It was a compromise,” Commission Chairman Joe Martinez said.
The question on the August 14 ballot will ask voters, “Shall the ordinance repealing the county’s 23 year old law prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls as a dangerous breed of dogs become effective?”
Pit-bull enthusiasts, who had preferred that the Legislature take action because it will likely be more difficult to repeal the ban by referendum, have objected to including the phrase “dangerous breed of dogs” in the ballot language. But commissioners approved the wording of the question in February.