Breed Battle: Inside the fight to end Miami-Dade’s pit bull ban

(WSVN) - It has been illegal to own a pit bull in Miami-Dade County for nearly 30 years, but two local organizations are ready for a “Breed Battle” to take this law off the books. 7’s Andrew Scheinthal explains.

Childhood photos show a happy little girl. Dahlia Canes came to Miami from Cuba when she was 5 years old and has faced many battles.

Dahlia Canes, founder of Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation: “I’m Cuban-American, so I know what it’s like to come to this country and be discriminated against. I’ve always fought for the underdog.”

And now she is fighting for an altogether different breed of underdog: a rescue pit bull named Chocolate, that changed her life.

Dahlia Canes: “My motivation is obviously Chocolate. Oh boy, I always get a little choked up about her.”

Dahlia wanted Chocolate to have a good life with her, but she had no idea pit bulls were illegal in Miami-Dade County.

Dahlia Canes: “The dog was confiscated. I was on my knees at Animal Services begging them not to kill her, and by the grace of God, I was able to get her out of this county, placed her in Palm Beach, and I began this fight.”

Dahlia founded a group called the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation. She vowed, for the sake of Chocolate, to help get pit bulls a legal home in Miami.

Raquel Cruz is also fighting for the dogs. She’s an Army veteran who battles post-traumatic stress disorder.

Raquel Cruz, founder of Blues for Vets: “I was in a war, that was pretty much a battle, when I was 20 years old.”

She says a pit bull named Blue saved her.

Raquel Cruz: “Blue, my service pet, 120-pound dog, would just come and jump on my lap and start licking my face, and he would just bring a soothingness over me.”

She now trains pit bull puppies to be service pets for veterans.

Raquel Cruz: “It’s like the veterans and the pit bulls, they’re like made for each other.”

She and Dahlia believe pit bulls are a misunderstood breed, and they’re suing Miami-Dade County to end the ban.

Ryan Lehrer, attorney, Tripp Scott Law Firm: “The goal would be to get the ordinance deemed unconstitutional and an order from the court that it be taken down.”

Miami-Dade first passed the ban in 1989, when an 8-year-old girl was attacked by a pit bull.

There have been several attempts to change the law. In 2012, voters were asked if the ban should be removed, but 63 percent said no.

But these pit bull lovers say it’s not the breed that’s dangerous; it’s how these dogs are sometimes raised.

Raquel Cruz: “That little puppy is the most cutest thing in the world, and they start off just like that.”

Ryan Lehrer: “I think, at the end of the day, an aggressive dog has nothing to do with the breed. It really has to do with the owners.”

And they hope this lawsuit will finally put an end to the breed battle.

Dahlia Canes: “This is a challenge, a big one, that we’re going to take on, and we’ll face it like we’ve faced everything else.”

Supporters of the lawsuit and repealing the ban plan to show their support this Sunday, Nov. 12, at the annual Pit-Nic at Amelia Earhart Park. To learn more about the event, the ban or either of these organizations, go to the links below.


Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation:

Blues For Vets:

Tripp Scott Law Firm:

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.