DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will not sign a repeal of the city’s pit bull ban. With the veto of the ban repeal, the ordinance will not take effect and the ban will remain in effect.

“I concluded, from the data I was looking at that it would pose an increased risk in Denver,” said Hancock on Friday afternoon.

The Denver City Council would need nine votes to overturn the veto, but at last check, only seven council members were in support of the repeal that would end the 30-year-old breed specific ban.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

Denver City Council members recently passed the ordinance by a 7-4 vote. The law would have taken effect in 90 days and ended the 30-year-old breed specific ban.

Under the ordinance, owners would have had to register, micro-chip and spay or neuter their dog.

“Unfortunately, today in Denver less than 20% of pets in Denver are currently licensed. Which raises significant questions about the effectiveness of this proposed system,” said Hancock.

Before his decision on Friday, Hancock said he was considering the history of the ban; how it went into effect following the death of a 3-year-old child, mauled by a pit bull to death in 1989.

Julie Kelly, a supporter of the repeal, says pit bulls are loyal and loveable, and that the breed is misunderstood.

“For being such a progressive city, with legalization of marijuana, decriminalization of psilocybin, it is so archaic and flawed that this ban still exists,” she told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

This is Hancock’s first veto as mayor.

“I just kept thinking that if this were to become law in our city, and harm comes to someone as a result, then we would have done a disservice to the people of Denver,” said Hancock.

Hancock released this statement:

Council President Clark and members of City Council:

Over the past several days, I have heard from thousands of residents passionately expressing their opinions on both sides of this issue. I want to thank everyone who has shared their views, especially those I have spoken to personally – experts in veterinary care, animal care and control, as well as residents of our city who have had experiences with the pit bull breeds – all to gain a broader understanding of what this change would mean for our community and those who own these dogs. After deep reflection and consideration, I find that I cannot, in good conscience, support this legislation and will exercise my authority as Mayor to veto it.

Let me say at the outset that I salute the sponsor of this ordinance, Councilman Herndon, and his fellow Council members, who have tried to craft legislation that creates a data and licensing system for these breeds that is supported by veterinary experts and encourages owners of pit bull breeds to manage their pets. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of all pets in Denver are currently licensed, which raises significant questions about the effectiveness of this proposed new system. While much progress has been made in recent years to increase that number, more intentional efforts around responsible pet ownership, dog licensure and registration, and off-lease dogs are needed before this proposal should be considered. The reality is that irresponsible pet owners continue to be a problem, and it is the irresponsible owners and their dogs I must consider in evaluating the overall impact of this ordinance.

We cannot diminish the very real, very traumatic experiences of those who have reached out to me to share their stories. While I appreciate the effort that Councilman Herndon has put in to crafting this ordinance and its guardrails, I do not believe this ordinance fully addresses the very real risk to severe injury that can result from attacks from these particular dog breeds, especially should they happen to a child.

At the end of the day, I must ask whether passage of this ordinance would make our homes and neighborhoods safer or pose an increased risk to public safety? I have concluded that it would pose an increased risk. I encourage members of City Council to reconsider their approach to this ordinance, which has been in the municipal code for over three decades. If we were to make this change now, and harm comes to someone as a result, then we have done a disservice to the people of this great city.

Comments (42)
  1. Jason says:

    Ahh Pit lovers. The Anti-Vaxxers of the dog world.

  2. Jean Blu says:

    Beware! Statistically, most people who kill animals take the next step and kill people. You recognize this type of activity. Remember Hitler? The methods and actions are so very similar. Good luck Denver.

  3. Curtis Sliwa says:

    He was covered up by the DPD in Players And Sugar.

  4. Jacob and Susan says:

    The ban is nonsense. Fact: the majority of dogs identified as “pitbulls” are mixed breeds dogs. Regardless, since we live in Denver and love bully breeds, if the ban stays then we’ll probably be adopting a Dogo Argentino (an amazing breed that is not banned) in the next few weeks.

    While my wife and I didn’t initially want a dog this large (Dogo Argentinos are on average 2-3x larger than “pitbulls”, Dogos can be up to 120lbs while most “pitbulls” are around 40-50lbs), we’re closing on a house next week that has a larger yard and is is close to several parks and trail systems. Food and veterinary care will cost more, but if we can’t adopt a pitbull mix then we’ve already located a wonderful Dogo to adopt from a shelter in Texas.

    So, if the ban’s intent is to lead responsible owners to larger bully breeds, I guess so be it.

    Jacob & Susan in Denver

    1. Craig says:

      So funny seeing your comment, we’re in SW Denver and thinking the same! Except, we’re adopting a 4yo Cane Corso mix (original family had to move overseas). He’s a big boy at 130 pounds but we are so excited to get him.

    2. JRT says:

      We have an American Bulldog since they are legal in Denver. Almost everyone thinks he is a pitbull, and we even had an encounter with animal control, but we always carry our vet’s letter stating that he’s an American Bulldog to alleviate any problems. The ban is ridiculous and what the pro-ban advocates don’t understand is that there are many bull breeds that are still 100% legal in Denver and so basically, the only thing that the ban does is that it prevents pitbulls from being adopted out in shelters. The ban is terrible and it will be my #1 issue, above all, during the next local election cycle. Not only that, I have many friends that agree and they have agreed to make this their #1 issues as well – the next time Denver votes, we will want to know where each candidate stands on this issue. I cannot tolerate any more discrimination against these wonderful dogs.

    3. scolbydoo says:

      That’s great, so now you definitely won’t run the risk one of those sweet pit bulls playfully latching onto and shaking the life out of your much more powerful pet.

    4. scolbydoo says:

      Mr. Mayor, thank you for making the right decision. Finally, here is proof that the public’s safety is more important than the old, worn-out pit bull propaganda that just won’t seem to die. The minority who opposes you could not care about the actual breed or there wouldn’t be shelter floors still caving in from the over population of these types of dogs. The pit bull lobby and pit bull rescue organizations including shelters have continued to profit and exploit the breed and it’s time for them to stop. Too many violent attacks and fatalities. Too many pit bull advocates who know full well about the violence these dogs pose to our communities. .

      1. Lance R says:

        “Pitbull Lobby” = Thousands of responsible and dog loving citizens of Denver, not some conspiracy. If you consider millions of pitbull-type dogs loved by millions of families all across the U.S. (and many probably hundreds in Denver regardless of the ban) who are opposed to archaic and discriminatory policies, then sure, call them the “pitbull lobby” ;-)

  5. John VanMunster says:

    Of all possible criteria to be considered in the question of dangerous dogs, the breed of dog is the single most significant determinant of risk, outweighing all other factors combined by a considerable ratio.

    A 2016 study of 1,161 pediatric dog-bite victims in Atlanta, found pit bull–type dogs were 2.5 times as likely as other dogs to bite in multiple anatomic locations. Additionally, children bitten by pit bull–type dogs were three times as likely to need surgery as were those bitten by other dogs.

    The pit bull cluster of dogs is the only canine type in the world that has, and has always had, the infliction of pain on animals and humans as its sole raison d’être. Bad owners can encourage more frequent and explosive expression of these dogs’ inherent instinct, but good owners CANNOT make them trustworthy! You can’t love away genetics – sorry.

  6. Tenors says:

    Pathetic decision. I regret voting for him. Karma will prevail.

  7. JASON M says:

    Mr. Mayor, good luck going out in public in Denver from now on. Denver is a dog town and most of the people that I know (working professionals, brewery lovers, hikers, and my fellow hockey players) are against the ban and think you’ve made a terribly incoherent decision. You want to enjoy burger? A local Rockies game? Amongst the fans in the stadium? Things will be drastically different for you going forward. You’ll probably be better off staying indoors… because if I ever see you at an Avalanche game again, I won’t be shaking your hand (as I did last year)… instead, I’ll be giving you a well deserved piece of my mind. My guess is that you’ll be moving out of Denver when your term is over, because I just don’t see how the majority of Denver will ever forget or forgive you for this. ;-)

    1. Sam K says:

      100%… I got to lots of Nuggets games and I’ve seen him there a few times up front. If I see him there again, I’ll be going out of my way to give him some advice. You are right, it’s GAME OVER for the mayor in Denver.
      -Sam K

    2. kbc says:

      LOL Yup!! I’m actually one of the staff at one of his fav lunch joints. Wish I could deny him service so he has a better understanding of what it feels like to be judged for no reason.

  8. Curtis Sliwa says:

    You think somebody who went to Players & Sugar is a decent mayor?

  9. Becky says:

    Stay strong mayor Mike! Thank you.

  10. Vicki A Baker says:

    Shame on you! Talk about judging for no reason.. I think you are dangerous and should be removed from office! How’s that sound. While I don’t know anything about you, I think this should still be done.You have obviously never met or loved an animal including a Pittie. They have judged Pits, German Sheppards, Rotties and Dobermans throughout time and you are helping them. And seriously, MiloFreeSpeech, check out the rest of the stat’s on how many are really NOT Pits. Any dog can kill, they were bred for protection and have been used for 100’s of years to guard children. A lot have been said to be Pit Bull when they are actually not. Easy to judge when you are afraid.

    1. Admit it. You haven’t even looked at the Forbes analysis of fatal dog attacks over a 13-year period. They found 300 different cases of people being killed by pit bulls over that period of time. Pit bulls killed more people than all other breeds combined. It is also a fact that three American children have already been killed by pit bulls in 2020. How many more children have to die in order for you to admit that pit bulls are a public safety problem?

      1. hillcoleen1 says:

        “Pit bull” isn’t even a breed. And Forbes’ “analysis” is based on flawed data. It is near-impossible to determine a dog’s mix from sight alone. There are over thirty breeds of dogs that are commonly confused with pit bull-type dogs.

      2. Jennifer says:

        You are completely wrong. The American Kennel Club did a study of this and have found that nine out of the ten times that a pit bull was blamed for an attack on a human another breed of dog was the real culprit. They found that Chihuahuas and Dauchunds are 99% more likely to bite then a pitbull is. Please go do some real research and stop commenting out of fear, hate and ignorance!

    2. scolbydoo says:

      Visit any dog park in Colorado or anywhere in the U.S.A. and you will hear the same story about a pit bull either severely mauling or killing another dog. I just can’t believe how all of these expert pit bull owners keep failing to tame that nasty little inherent quirk of unprovoked, explosive violence we all hear about when pibbles goes pit. If anyone has seen a playful pit bull bow down and then grab the other dog by the throat and shake it until it’s dead would absolutely want these killers banned.

  11. A Bernard says:

    You made the wrong decision. Pitbulls are loving and loyal dogs. It’s the humans who own them that are the problem.

  12. Howard says:

    Spread this all over and show that the pitbull ban can be stopped!!!

  13. Lisa Gayle Blanck says:

    What an obviously uninformed POS. Why don’t you go after dogfighters and backyard breeders you moron, instead of penalizing good dogs and their owners? Oh, right, here come the dogsbite flakes…. I bet you’re also all pro-gun for EXACTLY THE SAME REASONS. More people have been killed by insane gun owners in a YEAR. Educate yourselves.

  14. KG says:

    Pit humpers coming in hot in 3…2…1…

    1. John Zolis says:

      Hey bigot I heard you find it difficult to empty a boot filled with water even with instruction on the sole

  15. Bink says:

    Thank you for putting public safety first! No one has ever died because they couldn’t own a pit bull, but dozens die from pit bull attacks every year in the USA.

    1. No person ever died because they had to have a golden retriever instead of a pit bull! Thank god we have a mayor who cares about child safety!

    2. Jennifer says:

      You know what? I have own and been around a large number of pit bulls in my 40 years of life and guess what! I have been bitten by a Chihuahua, a Shar Pei and a yellow Lab who caused me to need 15 stiches and have horrible scars on my arm; but I have NEVER been bitten by any of the hundreds of pit bulls I have been around and owned. Kind of blows your theory out of the water now doesn’t it? Stop pulling statics out of your rear end and stop posting in fear, hate and ignorance!

  16. Tom says:

    VOTE: make sure that this is part of the discussion with ALL city officials running for office in the future. Know where they stand before they are elected. As pointed out in the Mayor’s “reasoning” for not signing this legislation, if you have a dog that isn’t licensed, please do this to take away that “excuse”.

    1. Stop endangering the lives of children. Pit bulls have already killed three children in 2020.

  17. John smith says:

    You obviously didn’t talk to half the people you claim to or you would not have veto this bill. Anyone with half an ounce of understanding of science or even good common sense realizes this is a BS law and it does nothing to keep people safer. You sir are a liar or too thick to understand the issue. Your choice which one.

    1. The mayor understands the fact that pit bulls have already killed three American children in 2020. Maybe you are the “thick” one here. Love our mayor! Child safety first!

  18. Julie W says:

    How terrible. I voted for him twice and now I regret that. Thank goodness that this is his third and LAST term as mayor. Hopefully, our next mayor will side with science, good citizens, and more importantly, will favor non-discriminatory policies.

    1. Actually, pit bulls kill 300 people every decade in the United States alone. Three children have already been killed by pit bulls this year in the United States. Source:

      1. Concerned Denver Citizen says:

        I assume you are intentionally making a non-fact based statement in 2020 by referencing an article from September of 2018. As even the Mayor states, it’s careless dog OWNERS, not the dogs themselves, that are the problem.

        More comical is the fact that there is not a ban on guns and gun ownership, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone each year, let alone the last decade.

        This all goes to show how willfully ignorant and uninformed many of our elected officials truly are. One of the most common reasons a dog of any breed attacks a child is in response to what the dog perceives as an aggressive action by that child, specifically being hugged around the neck by a child they are unfamiliar with. Even we as humans would not tolerate such interaction from a stranger.

        I challenge the Mayor to take a minute to spend time with owners of this breed to see how genuinely loving and gentle they are. I personally have been bitten by a Golden Retriever when it attacked my Pit Bull because the Golden’s owner was irresponsible and allowed it to run freely off-leash (which is different from ‘off-lease’, by the way, Mayor). However, I don’t place a blanket opinion on Goldens because of this own owners carelessness.

      2. John Zolis says:

        citing Forbes who cited pit hate propagandist Colleen Lynn and DBO a web dev woman who was stupid got bit and now blames 6 million dogs based on phenotypical characteristics – Only an utter moron would believe an author of “A Guide to Runes” who uses newspaper articles as her one and only source of information ignoring contradictory publications never correcting errors —
        Just some of the fake reports that are used in your citation –
        Rylee Dodge who Lynn cites KSWO as a source and I quote ” bulldog mixed-breed.”
        David brown
        David ended up passing away. The Daviess County Coroner’s report shows that he suffered a cardiac arrest that was complicated by the dog attack.
        Daisie Bradshaw reports say mixed breed but shelter says pit mix so Lynn uses the case which agrees with her agenda –
        James Chapple: Died of hypertensive issues and arthrosclertic heart disease 4 months after recovering from dog attack.
        Rita Pepe: died of kidney failure,
        Nancy Newberry: died of heart disease,
        Marilyn Stanleys: injuries cause by boyfriend scalping her with a knife, not dog attack.
        but hey I’m sure a pit hater like you will ignore the inconsistencies – I’d continue with fact like her stats correspond with Clifton who lost in court where is was proved that his stats were far from the truth –
        Got to love pit haters using a business source which cites a pit hate propaganda page — Truly you wonder why idiots believe Trump?

    2. Thank god our mayor cares about child safety! After all, pit bulls kill 300 people every decade in the United States alone. Pit bulls have already killed three American children in 2020. Time to put child safety first and replace all pit bulls with golden retrievers! Source:

      1. hillcoleen1 says:

        You know golden retrievers attack (and in some cases, kill), too, right? Any breed of dog can bite. There are good and bad dogs of all breeds. Breed-specific legislation are a wasteful use of tax dollars and do NOT increase public safety.

  19. Dorothy Catlett says:

    Shame on you

  20. FU says:

    What an awful Mayor! Get back to the bottom you POS! Still living in the 80’s you feeble minded little man!

  21. Harry Callahan SFPD says:

    He doesn’t support sweet dogs but went to Players & Sugar.

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