DAHLIA - Oh the B.S.L law, the Breed Specific Legislation, the ban,
WILL BE GONE no matter what it takes. If we have to do it politically or if
we have to file a lawsuit to get it out. We're almost there!
There's (2) goals that we have. To re-do Miami-Dade
Animal Services into a humane, NO-KILL shelter
which CAN be done. And to remove Breed Specific
Legislation and any such ban from Miami-Dade
ARMANDO - Dahlia, now word on the street is that you are the "Ultimate
Lesbian"! How do you feel about that?
DAHLIA - (laughs) Actually that's a compliment! I have been
discriminated against all my life. I'm Hispanic, I'm a woman, I'm a
lesbian and... I own a pitbull!
ARMANDO - (laughs so hard he snorts)
DAHLIA - You know what, I take in stride. I take it in as a blessing
because it just makes you a stronger person. I am gay, everybody
knows it...from the media from anywhere...my family and I have no
problem whatsoever. It is part of what makes me tick, it is part of my
genetic structure and I am PROUD of it.
ARMANDO - That's excellent.
DAHLIA - And I'll tell you, I will tell you...in the animal advocacy group we
know what discrimination is. And I have not once, not once had
experienced as much as a smirk because I am gay...you're accepted as
you are, as a person.
www.ambiente.us APRIL | ABRIL 2011
The Ultimate Lesbian|Dahlia Canes VS Miami-Dade's B.S.L.
by Armando Diaz
What is Breed Specific Legislation? According to the Animal Legal and Historical
Center at the University of Michigan, "BSL is, in simple terms, a statute or
regulation that is directed toward one or more specific breeds of dog."
Based on what has been seen and heard in popular media alone, it stands to
reason that the majority of B.S.L is directed at the infamous pit bull breed.
Now I don't know very much about pit bulls specifically, so I decided to educate
myself a little and do some reading. No, no I didn't watch thirty minutes of 'Pit
Boss' though I've heard it's an incredible show. In my research, of all the sites and
pages I visited I found the following passage very interesting.
"The name '
Pit bull' does not include all bully breeds or all fighting dogs. Akitas are a fighting
breed, but they are not a bully breed, so they are not pit bulls. Bull Terriers are
Bull-and-Terrier type dogs, but they were never used consistently for dog fighting,
so they are not pit bulls."
Knowing then, that there are so many kinds of breeds, so many types of
considerations, so many versions of basic individuality...why is one particular
breed (group) targeted? I had honestly never thought about it. Speaking for
myself here, I chalk all up to plain ignorance.
Dahlia Canes is the director for the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific
Legislation. She is a fervent animal rights activist as well as an out
and proud lesbian woman. She had a few moments of her lunch hour
(which she was working right through) to answer a few questions and
shed some insight on herself and her cause to be a voice for those who
can only bark.
ARMANDO - Dahlia how did this love for pit bulls come about?
DAHLIA - I had come across this dog, she was very sick, very
malnourished. I picked her up she was there for three days, she
healed. I was fostering her and I just fell in love with her and we kept
Until I got to New York, and the same day I had gotten there (my friend
was holding her for me), babysitting her on South Beach. Well,
Miami-Dade Animal Services from the Miami Beach Police Dept.
showed up, they busted into the house arrested my friend, as she was
trying to prohibit them from taking the dog. They took my dog, by the
time I got there my dog was in the doggy paddy wagon and my friend
was in the other paddy wagon.
Nobody slept that night, in the morning I had to bail my friend out of jail.
I went down to try to get my dog out and just because I knew someone
in there, I was able to get my dog out and I got her the hell out of Dade
I did indeed have to give her up, I still see her, I'm still in touch with her.
Her name is CHOCOLATE (Spanish).
ARMANDO - Awwwwww!
DAHLIA - (laughs) MmmmHmm...iv>
ARMANDO - I know you've been struggling and fighting for this for a few
years now. Where would you like to see this within a couple
DAHLIA - In a couple of years? Try a couple of weeks! I want this BSL
out of here! There's a dangerous dog ordinance, that is enforceable that
covers anything that needs to be done to a dangerous dog. Just
because a dog is born a certain breed, it is NOT considered to be a
You cannot generalize any breed of dogs. Just like you cannot
generalize any groups of people.
ARMANDO - Could you tell me just a bit about your legal background?
DAHLIA - I've been a paralegal for about (28) years focusing on
personal injury and civil litigation. I'm very well versed with animal rights
(obviously). I've done a lot of thought politicking. Last year in both (state)
houses they wanted to initiate so called modifying the state statute,
allowing any city or county to do what they felt. I was up in Tallahassee
for (3) days supporting the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific
Legislation, after (3) days a lot of talking and meeting with senators we
got it stopped!
Now had it gone through, if that had been the case...there would have
been a massive slaughtering of dogs...using OUR tax dollars. There
would have been a major exodus of people fleeing the state to save
their dogs. It would have been a financial disaster!
And a great deal of these major, national dog events are held in
Orlando, in Tampa etc. And they would not have been ALLOWED, due to
the exhibiting of specific dogs
ARMANDO - What do you see in the future in Miami-Dade?
Once you're into the animal advocacy or rescuer, there's something into that
mix when you see and experience the suffering and situations that you
see...the rest of it is non-chalant.
ARMANDO - What can you share with me and the world, that is not already
known about Dahlia Canes?
DAHLIA - Whatever I do, I do it for the dogs. That I am gay and I don't have a
problem with it...neither do my dogs.
ARMANDO - Thank you so much Dahlia, I'm certain the dogs appreciate it,
and being a dog lover myself I totally appreciate it. The world appreciates it,
again thank you so much.
DAHLIA - You're very welcome.
*As of this interview the MCABSL achieved a victory by having any adoption
and rescue partner fees waived at Animal Services during an emergency!
(at the request of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose Diaz)
In Dahlia's own words, "if ya don's ask, ya don't get!" A special thanks to
Councilwoman Isis Martinez and County Manager Alina Hudak.
For more information on the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific
Legislation, please visit - www.unitedagainstbsl.org
Sources & References:
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