Letter Sent by Counsel Retained by Miami-Dade County Residents to Challenge Miami-Dade County’s Long-Standing “Pit Bull” Ban
September 15, 2008
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL and Regular Mail
Re: Miami-Dade County Ordinance No. 89-22
Dear Mr. Kerbel,
By way of this letter I would like to advise you that this office has been retained by certain owners (names at this time will be kept confidential) who lost, were forced to move, had to give up their beloved pet, or are presently in fear of losing their pet and being wrongly fined. This office has also been retained to represent
certain pet industry professionals of pit bulls or pit bull mixes.
I have thoroughly reviewed Miami-Dade County Ordinance 89-22, Section 5-17, as well as Violation Notices and Fines that have been issued pursuant to this Ordinance. It is clear upon such review that the Miami-Dade County Ordinance 89-22, Section 5-17, is improper and must be invalidated immediately. The Ordinance is unconstitutional, implemented inconsistently, selectively and results in capricious and arbitrary results. The Ordinance states that it relies on American Kennel Club for American Staffordshire Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers and United Kennel Club for American Pit Bull Terriers; however this claim is untrue. First and foremost, these are copyrighted standards of which you have never been given permission to use and have actually been advised not to use them by the respective associations. Secondly, even if some how you find a way to support your using these standards, you are NOT using their entire standard list. The list of traits that Miami-Dade County uses is a summary of some, but not all traits listed by these organizations. How can you properly determine what is “Substantially conform,” when you are not even using the entire list of traits to go by?
Moreover, how can you determine what substantially conforms is? Is it Fifty-One (51%) percent, Fifty Five (55%) Percent, Sixty-Five (65%) percent, or Seventy-Five (75%) percent within which you are measuring substantial to mean? How can a citizen of Miami-Dade County determine whether they are in compliance with this law when the very law is unclear?
The fact that you do not even have definitions of substantial compliance which serve to notify the citizenry of their rights, as well as Miami-Dade County their scope, makes this Ordinance wholly invalid on its face. Clearly this ordinance is in direct violation of Miami-Dade County residents’ right to due process of law. It is
clear that since different people can interpret what is classified as a dog substantially complying as to what a Pit Bull is, then this ordinance is “void for vagueness.” Miami-Dade County’s Ordinance 89-22, improperly forces people of common intelligence to have to guess as to the meaning of the statute, and differ as to its
interpretation. A better case of a statute or ordinance being struck down as being void for vagueness could not have been created.
Moreover, over the years, Miami-Dade County has improperly killed countless dogs in violation of the very ordinance that you are claiming to go by. Specifically, the ordinance at issue states in Section 5-17.6-Time for Compliance subsection (b)(2). This section states that violation of section 5-17.6, may result in civil violation notice and (2) “Humane destruction of the pit bull dog by order of a court of competent jurisdiction. The County Manager or his designee may apply to the court for such order pursuant to this paragraph.” Miami-Dade county has wrongfully taken alleged pit bull dogs away from their owners to kill them without seeking court order or advising the owner that killing of their pet cannot be completed without court order. As a result, Miami-Dade County has committed countless acts in violation of this ordinance and has deprived countless residents of their property without due process of law.
Suffice it to say that we can go section by section and find clear violations with the ordinance as written and as implemented. They are too many to enumerate at this time. We have however set forth some of the more salient issues at this time. By way of this letter, we are demanding that Miami-Dade County CEASE AND DECIST at ONCE, it implementation of Ordinance No. 89-22 in its entirety, or otherwise face impending legal action. Please note that this is a serious warning that must be given the most serious of attention by Miami-Dade County. Your failure to take this matter seriously or to brush this off will result in immediate litigation of which we feel confident that we will have this Ordinance STRUCK down as unconstitutional on many grounds.
This does not mean that we are careless to dangerous dog situations in Miami-Dade County. However, if Miami-Dade County would begin to implement the dangerous dog law properly, aggressive dog incidences
would be reduced.
Since Time is of the Essence, as too many residents of Miami-Dade County are being improperly subjected to this violative ordinace, we request that you respond within Seven (7) days as to your position. If we do not hear from you, we will assume that you do not take this matter with the seriousness it demands and the appropriate law suit will be filed.
Please govern yourself accordingly.
Rima C. Bardawil, Esq.
cc: Roger Cuevas, Esq., Miami-Dade County Attorney
111 Northwest First Street, Suite 2810, Miami, Florida 33128