The Denver City Council introduced a new law that will lift the ban and regulate pit bull ownership. Now, the legislation heads to the Mayor's desk, who must sign it.
Pit bulls have always had a bad rep as aggressive or violent dogs. However, experts agree that no dog is inherently violent - regardless of breed. Rather, it is how a dog is bred, raised, and trained that defines whether it eventually turns violent. Thankfully, the Denver City Council has finally recognized this. In a welcome move, the Council voted to lift its ban on pit bulls. Though ownership will still be regulated, residents of Denver will be able to adopt adorable little pit bulls in a few months (as long as they're within city limits), The Washington Post reports.
The vote is especially monumental as the city of Denver has imposed a ban on pit bulls for over three decades now. The ban was first introduced in 1989, but in a vote with seven in favor and four against, the City Council officially recognized pit bulls are just like any other dog breed. The ban was replaced by a new law that will regulate pit bull ownership. It is set to take effect in 90 days pending approval from the Mayor, Michael Hancock. He said in a statement earlier this week that "he hasn’t decided to sign the ordinance or not at this time. It can only be hoped that he, too, will be convinced.
The new law was proposed by Councilmember Chris Herndon and co-written with Shira Hereld, a proud owner of a pit bull. She stated she was "over the moon" when the verdict was announced. Should the Mayor sign off on the newly-introduced legislation, a "breed-restricted license" will be introduced. This license registers the dog with the city and is only granted once an owner provides proof that their dog has been microchipped, vaccinated for rabies, and spayed or neutered. While other dog breeds don't require a similar license, this is still a step forward in the right direction. Denver Animal Protection may waive the need for a restricted license and permit pit bull owners to register their dogs as any other dog owner would after 36 months without a violation of the city’s animal safety policies.
Other regulations are included in the law. One household can only be home to two pit bulls, for instance, and if a pit bull bites or escapes, owners must inform the city within eight hours. Though these rules seem like a hefty imposition on those who wish to own pit bulls, eradicating the breed ban was an important move. According to Kendall Houlihan, the assistant director of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's animal welfare division, this could help owners be more responsible pet owners. She stated, "Breed bans de-emphasize the importance of responsible pet ownership in preventing dog bite injuries, diverting attention and resources away from effective measures such as socialization and training, neutering of male dogs, and licensing and leash laws." The new law will ensure citizens are responsible pit bull parents. Should the legislation pass, it will be evaluated in two years.