Since moving to Denver I find myself constantly impressed by the pet friendly nature of the city. Every hiking trail I’ve been on is dog friendly and the Green Tags are a great concept for dogs who are good off leash. Most other dog owners we’ve met have been responsible. Bars and restaurants are pet friendly. Even finding a place to live was easier than in any city I’ve ever lived. In truth this is one of the very reasons we moved to this beautiful city.
Unfortunately, that pet friendly status falls flat when it comes to the legislation. Denver is one of 700 cities in the US with Breed Specific Legislation, or to be more specific, a ban on Pit Bulls. Denver is a bit unique in the fact that this legislation is in direct contrast to State of Colorado’s legislation prohibiting BSL. I didn’t grow up with pit bulls and had my own misconceptions about them until working for a veterinary emergency center that also had a blood bank. It didn’t take long to notice an abundance of pits in the blood donor program. Their calm demeanor, people pleasing attitude, and large veins made them great volunteers. All of these traits also make them great family dogs. They are also great service dogs. They’re compactly built but strong for their size and eager to please. And their short hair makes them low maintenance. Pit Bulls have been wrongly convicted as aggressive, mean, and dangerous. In a one-year study 129 different breeds were responsible for dog bites in Colorado. And the top offender? The classic american family dog- the Golden Retriever (coalition for living safely with dogs July 07-08). More importantly this legislation is NOT effective at protecting the public. Denver county averages about six times more bites than Boulder. So this legislation serves ONLY to separate animals from their families and does nothing to actually protect anyone. In fact since passing the ban in 1989 over 4000 “pit bulls” have been killed as a result. Throughout the country the total number of dog bites in cities with breed bans has stayed about the same.
This is a topic that breaks my heart. I don’t have a pit bull so you may ask why I care so much. Because it is unjust legislation. And if one breed can be discriminated against then any breed could be next. In fact Saginaw, Michigan recently introduced legislation banning 10 breeds including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Huskies, Chow Chows, Great Danes, St. Bernards and Presa Canarios. Not that I wanted to move to Michigan, but I suppose now I definitely won’t be. In 2009 the US Marine Corps disallowed several breeds on U.S. or Foreign Privatized Housing for Service members. Men & women who served their country had to give up dogs resembling Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Chows, and Wolf Hybrids. No dog should ever be killed or taken from its family when it has done nothing wrong.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”-Martin Niemöller
Every dog lover should take BSL personally and speak out against it. No one, human or animal, should be killed because of what they look like.
Denver– It is time to wake up and repeal this unconstitutional and ineffective legislation and make this truly the best city in the country to own a dog!
Want more information about the real impact of breed specific legislation? Check out the documentary Beyond the Myth.