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Broward County Commissioners Vote in Pit Bull Restrictions

September 11, 1985

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ In the wake of a series of maulings, Broward County commissioners have decided that people who own pit bull terriers will have to insure their dogs for $1 million, register them and restrict them.

The rules governing pit bull ownership go into effect Oct. 15.

The ordinance, approved 4-1 Tuesday, requires owners to muzzle, leash or pen their dogs and provides penalties of 60 days in jail and fines of $500 for violations.

But some owners of the dogs, which are known for their ferocity, powerful jaws and refusal to let go once they’ve bitten, promised to fight the new law.

″What they’re doing now is banning pit bulls. We will take it to court,″ said Bill Margerum, a Deerfield Beach pit bull owner and president of the Palm Beach American Pit Bull Terrier Association.

A similar ordinance in the city of Hollywood was struck down three years ago by a state judge in Broward who said he found no proof the dogs were more dangerous than other breeds.

However, pit bulls have been blamed for a rash of recent maulings that county animal control director Rick Collord likened to a rabies outbreak. The county’s present leash law, which allows dogs to roam owners’ yards, is weak because few dogs remain inside yards, Collord said.

County records show pit bulls account for 1.5 percent of all registered dogs in the county and 10 percent of all biting incidents, officials said.

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