New law restricts ban on pit bulls and other large breeds

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Dozens of new laws took effect in the state of Florida starting Sunday.

One of the new rules concerns specific breeds of dogs, making some changes to the state’s existing “dangerous dog” law.

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The change prevents local governments like counties, cities and municipalities from banning specific breeds, including German shepherds or pit bulls.

Banning dogs because of their size or weight is also out of line.

Jan Steele with Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control said this is a small step forward.

“These big dogs, bully breeds, they’re great animals, they’re really good family dogs,” she said. “They are very devoted to their family. They are just big and scare some people.

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According to Steele, private owners and homeowners associations can still ban certain dogs, which can create some uncertainty.

Jan Steele of Palm Beach County Animal Protection and Control says "If you allow pets, you should be able to allow them all." October 1, 2023

Victor Jorges/WPTV

Jan Steele of Palm Beach County Animal Protection and Control says, “If you allow pets, you should be able to allow them all. »

“It’ll help,” she said. “I don’t want people to think that’s not the case, but it’s going to be very limited because it’s social housing and the municipalities themselves. If you allow pets you should be able to allow all. These dogs “are excellent dogs. If you’ve ever had a pitty mix, German Shepherd or Great Dane, you know they make great family dogs. Once they bond with families, they will be with you for life. “

Before this new rule, a county could prohibit people from having a dog over a certain weight or size if there were safety concerns.

At least a dozen other states have gotten rid of their breed-specific laws, according to stopbsl.org, a watchdog website on the subject.

“A lot of states are removing breed restrictions because we’re finding out that a dog is a dog,” Steele said. “It doesn’t matter what breed it is. If treated well, they will be excellent family dogs. If they are not treated well, they will have problems. If we remove this bias against bully breeds and large breeds and just think of them as dogs, they are great. What makes them dangerous is that people mistreat them. It’s not the dogs themselves.

Steele also said it could help alleviate some of the overcrowding at shelters if people are willing to adopt larger dogs and if they live in an area where the old ban is now lifted.


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