By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) — The Denver Animal Shelter performed evaluations of pit bulls Thursday and will see more dogs next Thursday, to help residents make sure their best friend is legal in the city. Last November, Denver residents voted to lift the breed ban that had been in place for more than 30 years — but owners are still required to get a permit.

(credit: Getty Images)

If the dog is majority American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier they need a permit to be considered legal. Failure to have a permit could carry up to a $999 fine and 300 days in jail.

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Tank the pit bull is no longer a fugitive from the law.

“Come on baby let’s go,” his owner Francis Martinez urged.

With her help, Tank turned himself in for evaluation at the Denver Animal Shelter.

His mug shot was taken and he was interviewed by the authorities.

“My daughter brought him and suckered me into it. I fell in love with him and wanted to keep him,” Martinez explained.

Banned for three decades, in Denver pit bulls are now legal, but only if they
get a permit, with a fee.

Martinez said she wasn’t aware of the requirement, which took effect in January.

“I think it’s wonderful it gives us a chance to get them legal so we can keep our dogs.”

Often perceived as potentially vicious, the legalization came without  Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s blessing. In February 2020 he said, “I just keep thinking if this were to become a law in our city and harm comes to someone as a result then we would have done a disservice to the people of Denver.”

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In 1989, pit bulls were banned in Denver. Several people had been attacked, and a young child was killed, in the previous several years.

But last November voters overwhelmingly approved a pit bull legalization referendum.

Daniel Ettinger, a Denver animal control officer told CBS4, “The truth of the matter is if it is a well behaved well socialized animal it’s not about the breed it’s about the training.”

And Tank showed off his good nature by appearing to help fill out the forms.

Pit bull evaluations are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis inside the lobby of the Denver Animal Shelter again on Thursday, June 10, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Dogs must be at least 10 months old and owners must have proof of the dog’s spay or neuter, current rabies vaccination and microchip information.

Staff members will check their breed characteristics to make sure they need to be registered. Owners of dogs determined not to be a banned breed will be provided with an official evaluation letter.

The cost is $25 for the evaluation and $30 for the permit.

“It’s the easiest way to make your relationship legal,” city officials said.

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Pet licenses are required by law in Denver. A pit bull license can only be issued at Denver Animal Shelter at 1241 W. Bayaud Ave. For more information, click here.

Rick Sallinger