Lifting Pit Bull Ban: Denver Considers Allowing Bully Breeds, With Restrictions

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver City Council is looking to end the ban on bully breed dogs — including pit bulls, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Denver City Council will consider a proposal to end the city's ban on bully breed dogs.

Denver City Council will consider a proposal to end the city’s ban on bully breed dogs. (credit: CBS)

The City and County of Denver passed the ban in 1989 after two attacks resulting in death and serious injury. According to the proposal, a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association has found pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous compared with other dogs. More than 100 cities have repealed their bans entirely.

However, some Denver residents are concerned about lifting the ban.

“There’s a lot of high rises around here and it’s a community — and suddenly pit bulls are legal? And all of a sudden people move in who haven’t properly trained their dog. That could be a problem,” said Bill Lee.

“The amount of pressure they can put on someone or on a dog is enough to kill them — so I personally don’t let pit bulls play with my dog because I get worried that if it snaps it’s going to hurt it. But I think it’s nice for people to be able to own them,” Cory Center said.

Councilman Chris Herndon proposed the breed-specific bans, saying they are ineffective. He also says the new proposal would hold bad owners accountable, without punishing good dogs with bad reputations.

Denver Councilman Chris Herndon

Denver Councilman Chris Herndon (credit: CBS)

The owner will have to provide proof that the animal has a registered microchip implanted, as well as proof of vaccination. According to his proposal, an application for a breed-restricted license will include the owner’s name and address, two emergency contacts and a description of the pit bull and photograph.

The owner can not have more than two pit bulls at one time. Animal protection must be notified within eight hours if the dog has escaped or attacked a person or animal.

If there are no violations during the dog’s probationary three-year license period, the owner can apply for a new license – the same one needed for any other dog.

(credit: CBS)

“Since they’re licensed, we’d have the ability, if an incident occurs, to respond to and address the issue,” said Herndon. “Denver Animal Protection will also be permitted to access the owner’s premises, to check on the animal.”

The proposal would allow any humane society registered by the city to hold, transport and adopt any pit bull. The Dumb Friends League told CBS4 they’re in support of the license.

(credit: CBS)

“We should be looking at the dog as a whole, rather than slapping something onto a breed because it has a blocky head and looks a certain way,” said Maia Brusseau with the Dumb Friends League.

Brusseau says DFL shelters hold many bully breed dogs, but city bans make it challenging for the dogs to find homes. It also prevents bully owners from seeking resources and bringing their dogs in for treatment.

“They sometimes won’t seek behavioral help or training. They’re afraid if someone finds out they live in Denver with that banned breed, they might face ramifications,” said Brusseau.

However, critics like Colleen Lynn, the founder of Dogsbite.org, say lifting the ban will cause an explosion in the population of those breeds.

RELATED: Breed Ban Advocates Say Pit Bull Population Will Explode If Ban Lifted In Denver