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by Judy Hamontre

Ark-Valley Humane Society

Denver City Council voted Feb. 3 to officially introduce a bill that would allow residents to own pit bulls within city and county limits if they acquire a special license.

This new legislation proposed by City Councilman Chris Herndon is more of a compromise to Denver’s 1989 ban than it is an outright repeal. He said the old Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has proven to be ineffective, as people continue to own pit bulls. He believes his proposal will bring these dogs out of the shadows and hold bad owners accountable.

Herndon noted that a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association has found pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous compared with other dogs. He said more than 100 cities have entirely repealed their bans.

With the new legislation an owner will have to provide proof that his dog has a registered microchip implanted as well as proof of vaccinations and spaying/neutering.

The breed-restrictive probationary license application will include owner’s name and address, two emergency contacts, description of pit bull and photograph.

An owner cannot have more than two pit bulls at one time. Animal protection must be notified within eight hours if a dog escapes or attacks a person or animal.

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

Denver Animal Protection will also be permitted to access the owner’s premises and check on the animal.

The proposal also allows any animal humane society registered by the city to hold, transport and adopt any pit bull.

Support for the proposal has moved it forward. People who love their pit bull pets and shelters, including Ark-Valley, are hopeful. At the time of writing this article, the public hearing scheduled for Feb. 10 had not happened, and the final outcome of the new legislation is unknown. Pit bulls are in the Denver news with many people feeling it is time for laws to change because it is irresponsible ownership and not the breed that is the problem, and the ASPCA agrees, stating:

“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 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.

“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.”

Judy Hamontre is an Ark-Valley Humane Society volunteer.