Council members voted 7-4 to repeal the city’s ban and instead allow a breed-restricted license registration for pit bulls, which have long been stigmatized as being uniquely violent.
The law requires approval by Mayor Michael Hancock and would go into effect 90 days after he signs it.
Video taken by CBS Denver showed supporters of the ban’s repeal giving a raucous standing ovation after the city council’s vote on final passage.
Shira Hereld, who attended the vote in support of repealing the ban, said a victory would mean she could move back to Denver with her dog, Merry.
“I couldn’t look her into the eyes and bear the thought of giving her up,” she told The Denver Post of her decision to move to the nearby city of Arvada in 2018 rather than part with her mixed-breed dog whose boxy-shaped head resembles the vilified breeds.
The breed-restricted license would require owners to pay an annual registration fee and provide two emergency contacts and a description and photograph of the pit bull. Each dog must be microchipped, spayed or neutered, and have proof of a current rabies vaccination. Each owner or household would be limited to no more than two pit bulls and would have to notify Denver Animal Protection within eight hours if the dog escapes or bites.
If the owner continuously abides by all of the license’s rules and requirements, the breed-restricted license would be replaced with a regular dog license after three years.
“Dogs bite, but there’s no such thing as a bad breed,” Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon, who proposed ending the city’s ban, told CBS Denver.
Herndon called the breed-restricted license a compromise for both sides, arguing that the rules put in place will enforce accountability and responsibility.
“Let’s take time to demonstrate that they’re no different than any other animal,” he said.
The city and county of Denver banned pit bulls in 1989 after two separate attacks in the city, one of which resulted in a death.
Sharon Sucharski, whose 14-month-old grandson was killed by two pit bulls in Aurora in 2013, said she disagrees with the city’s decision based on her own experience.
“They were loved, the dogs were loved, so I get so tired of hearing ‘It’s how they were raised,’” she told KDVR.
In considering the ban’s repeal, the proposed amendment cited a review of controlled studies by the American Veterinary Medical Association that found pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous compared with other dogs.
Similar conclusions have been made by the American Kennel Club, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the National Canine Research Council and the Humane Society of the United States.
“Breed-based policies are based on myths and misinformation, rather than science or credible data,” the Human Society’s website states. “Their impact on dogs, families and animal shelters, however, is heartbreakingly real.”
Similar pit bull bans remain in effect in the Colorado cities of Aurora, Lone Tree, Louisville and Commerce City, though Aurora’s city council is discussing changing its law, The Denver Post reported.
This U.S. map shows states where breed-specific legislation is being enforced.