By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver City Council is looking to end the ban on bully breed dogs — including pit bulls, American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. A council committee voted to move forward with a proposed license that would bring Pit Bulls back to Denver.

Denver City Council will consider a proposal to end the city's ban on bully breed dogs.

Denver City Council will consider a proposal to end the city’s ban on bully breed dogs. (credit: CBS)

The City and County of Denver passed the ban in 1989 after two attacks resulting in death and serious injury. According to the proposal, a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association has found pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous compared with other dogs. More than 100 cities have repealed their bans entirely.

“What I don’t have before you is an outright repeal. What I have before you is a compromise,” said Councilman Chris Herndon.

Denver Councilman Chris Herndon

Denver Councilman Chris Herndon (credit: CBS)

Herndon says breed-specific bans are ineffective, as there are still pit bulls in Denver. He believes his proposed breed-restrictive license would bring those dogs out of the shadows — holding bad owners accountable, without punishing good dogs with bad reputations.

“Since they’re licensed, we’d have the ability, if an incident occurs, to respond to and address the issue,” said Herndon.

However, some Denver residents are concerned about lifting the ban.

“There’s a lot of high rises around here and it’s a community — and suddenly pit bulls are legal? And all of a sudden people move in who haven’t properly trained their dog. That could be a problem,” said Bill Lee.

“The amount of pressure they can put on someone or on a dog is enough to kill them — so I personally don’t let pit bulls play with my dog because I get worried that if it snaps it’s going to hurt it. But I think it’s nice for people to be able to own them,” Cory Center said.

A veterinarian who spoke at Wednesday’s committee meeting says the license could mean an end to the unintended consequences that came with the ban. She told the committee, “Dog bite prevention requires social conditioning to live closely with people, dogs and small animals.”

The Dumb Friends League also supports the proposal, explaining the ban prevents bully owners from seeking resources and bringing their dogs in for treatment and training. The proposal would allow any humane society registered by the city to hold, transport and adopt any pit bull.

The owner will have to provide proof that the animal has a registered microchip implanted, as well as proof of vaccination. According to Herndon’s proposal, an application for a breed-restricted license will include the owner’s name and address, two emergency contacts and a description of the pit bull and photograph.

The owner can not have more than two pit bulls at one time. Animal protection must be notified within eight hours if the dog has escaped or attacked a person or animal.

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

(credit: CBS)

“Denver Animal Protection will also be permitted to access the owner’s premises, to check on the animal,” said Herndon.

“We should be looking at the dog as a whole, rather than slapping something onto a breed because it has a blocky head and looks a certain way,” said Maia Brusseau with the Dumb Friends League.

(credit: CBS)

Brusseau says DFL shelters hold many bully breed dogs, but city bans make it challenging for the dogs to find homes.

“They sometimes won’t seek behavioral help or training. They’re afraid if someone finds out they live in Denver with that banned breed, they might face ramifications,” said Brusseau.

However, critics like Colleen Lynn, the founder of Dogsbite.org, say lifting the ban will cause an explosion in the population of those breeds.

Councilman Kevin Flynn, a former reporter at the Rocky Mountain News, says he vividly remembers the attacks that led to the city’s ban.

“Three-year-old Fernando Salazar’s death in southwest Denver is one of the fatalities that led to this law. I don’t take it very lightly. I would not vote for an outright appeal, but Herndon’s proposal does have a lot of merit that I need to look at,” said Flynn.

Flynn hopes more people will plan to attend future city council meetings when this proposal is on the agenda, so additional views can be heard.

RELATED: Breed Ban Advocates Say Pit Bull Population Will Explode If Ban Lifted In Denver

Tori Mason

Comments (22)
  1. Mike says:

    So, if I am traveling is it safe for me to come to Denver with my beloved pitty? I’ve done so before without incident but now wonder if it is safe or not.

  2. daniel k says:

    I fully support the changes and believe that the archaic and discriminatory ban should be lifted. The ban does nothing to address truly problematic or aggressive dogs (of any breed) and only impacts good dogs and responsible owners. Also, many studies have concluded that risk (bite severity etc) is not breed-specific and that BSL is not effective. It’s time to move Denver out of the dark ages and time to embrace reasonable policies for animal control. Therefore, I support this change which will provide a framework to support responsible owners while still having controls for irresponsible owners and aggressive dogs (of any breed). Also, “pit bull” is not a breed – it’s a blanket term that can encompass something like over 20 different bully breeds so it’s really not scientifically accurate to lump all these different breeds into one bucket in order to calculate “stats” – that’s not good math and not good science. This positive change is long overdue.

  3. Tracy says:

    I oopose the lift of the ban! It is irresponsible as public safety should be paramount to dog life. There was a reason the ban was put into place to begin with, The breed has killed nearly 40 people last year 38 the year before and 3 people this year already. This will only lead to further problems such as more attacks, over breeding and more shelters being over crowded with them. This is after all a fighting breed. It was never bred with the intentions of being family pets and these dogs have proven many times that they are not when they attack and kill people or their pets or livestock. Lifting the ban will be a disaster. Just wait and see! things are bad enough already.

  4. Sara E Nelson says:

    The fact that anyone still listens to Colleen Lynn is amazing. She and her website promote nothing but hate for “Pit Bulls” (not a breed). The data that she has on her site is inaccurate. Her statistics have constantly been debunked by entities such as the AVMA,NACA, CDC, and the American Bar Association. Along with them professional trainer and large animal welfare groups have also debunked the statistics she puts on her page. Reporters need to stop continually citing her garbage. When they do they only contribute to the stereotype of the different breeds.

    1. C Lamb says:

      CL was actually a fortune teller and when she couldn’t make a living fortune telling, she transitioned to her “non profit” which is really just a tabloid and not a legitimate source for any kind of factual or scientific information. She has no credentials and quite frankly, I’m not sure how she can legally run her “non profit” (maybe I’ll look into it since I’m in the legal field). There are many sites that fully debunk her statistics and reveal how she intentionally manipulates data and doesn’t make any reference to the many, many studies that contradict the so called facts and info that she publishes. She’s basically a fraud.

    2. Harve Morgan says:

      These are so upset because DogsBite/Colleen Lynn has managed with no funding to stop their efforts at anti-BSL legislation almost 90% of the time for the past few years. Legislators listen to her. Courts listen to her and have made rulings because of her submissions to the courts. BTW Lynn is a victim who started her site for other victims, not just victims of pit bulls, any dangerous dog. Her site contains a massive library of university studies, scientific studies, doctors studies and that scares those that repeat the propaganda. Bans have been repealed thanks to Lynn and her dedication to helping others.

      1. She’s established a blog and is a website designer. She knows how to make a buck while being pretty about it. It’s not truth and you know it, phillis daughtery. DBO isnt a victim site.- if it was then what is up with all the “DARWINIAN PIT BULL ATTACK” stories she puts out to include false labeling over 8 stories LAST year alone? No one needs to go to a fake fortune tellers website who uses a hair dresser as her main stooge to get legislative letters written with threats of blood on your hands and fake pediatric studies when EVERYONE knows you all are partnered to PETA. You want to talk about a pit propaganda machine? What are you for PeTA then? The pit bull eradication machine? She uses 33 points that were originally being used by the CDC who said whoops, sorry, that doesnt work like that. Even the CDC ADMITTED THAT BSL WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND WOULD INSTITUTE MAJOR ISSUES IN ENFORCEMENT.

        Kinda funny how Dogsbite INC came from Denver. Funny how Kory admits being close friends to colleen lynn while still being the city attorney and also quite funny that colleen is partnered with PeTA who openly admits there is an eradication agenda as do many of you. Sit, “harve”. Your flights have been canceled so thankfully you have no more legislators or panels to harass in person.

        1. BSLkillsINNOCENTDOGS says:

          Shame on the media for once again quoting dogsbite yet again as some kind of true and honest website .. it has been debunked so many times, Colleen ran past a dog while she was out jogging and frightened the dog, it reacted in fear and surprise and lunged and bit her.. her side of course is it plotted her attack.. a very common phrase used by her followers.. the dogs PLOT and plan the murder.. insane at best…. it has been and always will be nothing but that, but her persistant skewing of stats, her close association with Merrit, REALLY draws out the ugly in her. and now I hear she is bed with peta.. says it all.. I hope the ban is lifted.. I seen so many dbo members wanting the dogs controlled etc.. here is the chance to do it and they still not happy.. meanwhile not in the news today MILLIONS of pit type dogs lived happy and calm days without ~mauling~ and killing any other animals.. #ENDBSLNOW

  5. Brenda wood says:

    I have a pit bull and he is a year and 4 months old, he is the sweetest thing you will ever meet, he has never tried to bite anyone at all

  6. TW (denver resident) says:

    I 100% agree with the changes to the ban and I would also support lifting the ban entirely. There are many breeds and mixes that can have strong bites, not just “pitbulls” (which is a blanket label and not a breed). Also, I recently read that over 40 different breeds and mixes have been involved in fatal attacks in the U.S. over the last decade so it makes no sense to discriminate against only one breed or type of dog when there are many breeds that require responsible ownership. The ban needs to go and for public safety, breed neutral regulations (that focus on human factors) are more effective. The council members that vote “Yes” on this measure will have my vote going forward.

    1. Randy says:

      40 different breeds? Prove it.

      1. TW (denver resident) says:

        Sure, I had to dig in my browser history but found it: https://www.pitbullinfo.org/dog-bite-statistics.html (So this organization might not be considered “neutral” on this topic, but their data is sourced and linked back to legitimate news articles and studies etc.) I’m not going to go back and forth with you on this topic, but you asked me to prove it, so this is the source.

    2. Sara E Nelson says:

      It’s nice to have another on the side of the pibble that has true facts and statistics!!! I’m so tired of people referring to dogsbite.org as though it was the gospel truth!

  7. Terry Murphy says:

    Do the research here: http://www.dogsbite.org

    1. Sara E Nelson says:

      The statistics that have been put forth by Colleen Lynn on her website have been debunked by every major animal entity including the AVMA, NACA, CDC, the American Bar Association, as well as professional trainer and large animal welfare groups. DO NOT TAKE THE STUFF ON THERE AS TRUE STATISTICS, THEY ARE NOT.

  8. Harry Callahan SFPD says:

    I had a pit bull, he loved everybody. His name was Bodie. He came from an old lady in Palm Springs.. The only ones that are baddies are the ones owned by gangstahs…you’ll see them in rap videos.

  9. John C says:

    I fully support this equitable and reasonable change to the current discriminatory ordinance. Effective public policies for animal control (dog bites) should address relevant factors like a dog’s behavior (aggression, bite history, etc.) and irresponsible ownership – instead of a dog’s appearance or breed. Thank you, Denver.

  10. Carol Miller says:

    Lifting the breed ban is a very bad idea. I’m the survivor of a pit bull attack and I can tell you survivors don’t get their peaceful pre-attack lives back, ever, but we are sure more fortunate than those who did not survive.

    Why would anyone want to bring this violence into the community?

    1. Sara E Nelson says:

      So by your logic we might as well kill off the entire human race. There are men and women in jail for murdering other people including children. So if an entire breed is bad because of a few then the entire human race is bad because of a few. And if you want pit bulls, who are not a breed, btw, killed because you were attacked by, what you thought was one, then you must believe that you too should be killed because other women have killed either their children or another person. Most vets can’t even distinguish what is a “pit bull” and what is not without a DNA test.

      Your logic is flawed. Just as you are, I am assuming, a perfectly nice woman, you should not be discriminated against or killed because another woman killed her child. If you have a husband or son, they should not be killed because of a person like Jeffrey Dahmer. People are individuals just dogs are individuals.

      I have a Staffie who was used as a bait dog, not because he wanted to be but because a human forced him to be. They filed his K9 teeth down to the gums and tied him to stake in the middle of a ring while they forced other dogs to attack him. He, nor the other dogs, did not choose to do that, HUMANS, forced them.

      He is now my certified Medical Alert Dog. He alerts me hours before the pain of a migraine hits so I can take my medicine. Until him, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a migraine alert dog. By your logic, because one dog bit you, mine that helps me live a somewhat normal life, should be taken from me and killed.

      Do you want to tell his sisters and brother that? Two mini schnauzers, two cats and a rabbit. He loves them all just like he loves every person he meets. If he would meet you, I would tell him to make friends and he would come up to you and stick his paw out to introduce himself. But you think he should be taken and killed.

      I was bitten by a German Shepherd when I was a child. I don’t have any fear of German Shepherds. Just because that one bit me does not mean others are going to bite me. And German Shepherds have a stronger bite force than “Pit Bulls.”

      Violence is brought into a community by humans, not by different breeds of dogs. Maybe if you volunteer with a rescue who works with pibbles, you will see the kind of horrors done to them by humans. Tortured, beaten, starved, females forced to get pregnant, teeth cut out, forced to eat gunpowder to destroy their fight or flight sense and keep them in a heightened state of fight. Out of all breeds “pit bulls” are the most abused. Again not by the other dog but by humans.

      Do you see what I’m getting at? HUMANS ARE THE EVIL, NOT THE BREED. And it is the media’s fault for perpetuating the lie.

      1. Harve Morgan says:

        DogsBite/Colleen Lynn has never been debunked except by the attempts of the pit propaganda machine. Lynn has established a massive library of university studies, medical studies, etc., and that is what you are scared of, people actually researching and finding out the truth about this mutant of breeds. DBO is a victim site, not a pit bull site. They use 33 parameters to research each and every case of a dog bite related fatality, regardless of the breed. I suggest you actually go to that site and see for yourself instead of drinking that koolaid by the pit propaganda machines.

    2. Well since you sit on the board to dogsbite and have lied for the last 12 years about being an “attack survivor” since you were never seen for a dog bite, I guess your word is solid, right?

      Colleen HAS been debunked. Just because she has Laura MARUSINEC- the insane pediatrician who got kicked out of a pet store last year for literally causing a scene, whos on the bandwagon to “recruit” doctors, doesnt mean she’s not debunked. There is a reason why no government entity BACKS Dogsbite and never will- it’s also why the CDC will NEVER comply with dogsbite or the fake advocacy of the National Pit Bull Victims Awareness either.

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