All dog breeds should have equal rights, but somehow the pit bull always gets unfair treatment. Any breed can bite and attack – it is purely about behavior not genetics.
In 1989, the city of Denver decided to issue a ban on owning or sheltering pit bulls. Aurora and Commerce City followed later in 2005, Lone Tree the following year in 2006 and many more cities issued bans after these initiated the trend. The main reason for this sudden pit bull ban in Denver was due to the high number of publicized dog attacks in Colorado in the 1980’s, mostly coming from Denver. It just so happened that a majority of these bite cases were from pit bulls.
Banning did not solve the issue it only created a negative orientation towards pit bulls and gave people a false outlook on the breed as a whole. These bans caused a spike in homeless pit bulls and other breeds that were listed as ‘dangerous’ including American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers. Families were unable to adopt them due to the restrictions in certain cities, and shelters were having to transport them to cities where they were allowed. Apartment complexes and rental units all across the county to this day have bans on pit bulls and ‘dangerous’ or large dog breeds. Thus also causing people to look past the breeds at shelters even if they are complete sweethearts.
In 2018, the first city to lift the ban was Castle Rock. They tracked dog attack incidents over the next year and did not see any increase in the pit bull breed as attackers. Actually, the next year the city of Castle Rock had to remove 7 animals from the city due to being dangerous and 0 of them were pit bulls. Just straight statistics proving it is behavior not breed.
30 years since the ban, in 2019, Denver ended their complete ban of pit bulls and instead decided you have to purchase a restricted breed license for $30 and a pet evaluation for $25. The city conducts yearly check-ups with you and your pit bull to ensure your housing is suitable to keep them contained and that the dog are up to date on shots. Since the lift of the ban, we have seen progress, but this is not the end. I want this restriction to be lifted and pit bulls – along with other ‘dangerous breeds’ – to not be considered a restricted breed in the city of Denver.
I reached out to my close friend Alex Feagin who has a beautiful half pit half lab to see what her experience has been like having one. She said the following:
“Just yesterday I was at the park, and there is usually no one there during the week as we go all the time, so Ember was off leash for a second after we got out of the car. I saw this woman from afar pick up her child and hold her other child close to her as if Ember was going to charge at them or attack. I called Ember over and she immediately listened, as always, and I leashed her for the mom and children’s sense of comfort. Seeing people react that way to my baby girl breaks my heart because she truly is the sweetest dog. Also, I have been turned away from apartment complexes multiple times as many of them have bans on pit bulls. Even though Ember is part lab, she still has a lot physical traits that make her look like a pit, so she isn’t welcome in a lot of rental places. It is inconvenient, but nothing and no one could ever change my mind on what kind of dog I wanted and have. Ember truly is my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her!”
Next time you go to the shelter, consider giving your heart and home to a pit bull as they are not dangerous when trained and treated properly. You may have to pay a fine in your city, but do not let that stop you as we will fight this ban altogether.
For more information about Pit Bull laws in Denver see the following article by the city and County of Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Agencies-Departments-Offices-Directory/Animal-Shelter/Animal-Protection/Animal-Ordinances-and-Legislation