Residents will now be able to own up to two pit bulls under a breed-restricted license

By Claudia Harmata
February 11, 2020 10:45 AM
Pit bulls
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The Denver City Council has voted to end its 30-year ban on owning pit bulls.

On Monday, the city council passed a new code in a 7-4 vote that would allow its residents to own pit bulls as long as they register their dog with the Denver Animal Protection (DAP) and get a breed-restricted license. The large canines are currently illegal in the Colorado city.

In order to obtain the license, owners will have to provide a name and address for the dog, two emergency contacts and an accurate description of the pit bull, the city council explained in a detailed post on Twitter. Owners will also have to show proof that their pit bull has been microchipped, has received the current rabies vaccination and has been spayed or neutered.

In addition, pit bull owners will have to pay an annual fee to the city to maintain the license.

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Other conditions of ownership state that each household is limited to a maximum of two pit bulls, should they choose to own one. Owners will also be required to notify the DAP within eight hours if their pit bull runs away or bites, and within 24 hours if the dog dies or the owner moves.

According to the Denver City Council, the new law will take effect in 90 days.

If there are no violations to the new code within its first three years, the DAP may reevaluate and remove the requirement for a breed-restricted license on pit bulls and owners would be able to license them like any other dogs in the city.

While some Denver residents voiced their support for the new code, others expressed their concern for safety on social media.

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Pit bulls have been historically targeted with negative stereotypes of aggression, and have become the poster-animal for breed-specific legislation, a phenomenon that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says is only creating an “illusion” of public safety.

“Laws that ban particular breeds of dogs do not achieve these aims and instead create the illusion, but not the reality, of enhanced public safety,” the organization said in their position statement on pit bulls.

“Notably, there are no statewide laws that discriminate based on dog breed, and 18 states have taken the proactive step of expressly banning laws that single out particular breeds for disparate legal treatment,” they added. “All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together.”

The ASPCA also explained that “dogs of many breeds can be selectively bred or trained to develop aggressive traits,” and not just pit bulls.

“Therefore the responsible ownership of any dog requires a commitment to proper socialization, humane training and conscientious supervision,” the organization wrote. “Despite our best efforts, there will always be dogs of various breeds that are simply too dangerous to live safely in society. We can effectively address the danger posed by these dogs by supporting the passage and vigorous enforcement of laws that focus, not on breed, but on people’s responsibility for their dogs’ behavior, including measures that hold owners of all breeds accountable for properly housing, supervising and controlling their dogs.”

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