Aurora considers lifting ban on pit bulls

The city’s Animal Care division has come out against lifting the ban, arguing it has worked well and lifting it would mean a flood of pit bulls from other metro-area cities where the dogs are still banned

AURORA | Pit bull advocates are set to howl at city hall like it’s 2005.

The city’s Public Safety Committee is slated to consider a proposal Tuesday that would rescind the city’s ban on pit bulls — a topic that has lead to some of the most-heated debates at city hall in recent memory.

Tuesday’s meeting, which is just the first step in what could be a lengthy process, is expected to draw such a large crowd that city officials have moved it to city council chambers, which can accommodate a much larger crowd than the meeting room it was initially scheduled in.

AS.Pit Bull.0680.110813.WEB

Frederick John Katz III was reunited with a recently adopted pit bull Stallone, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. City lawmakers are considering lifting a ban on such dogs. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

AS.Pit Bull.6793.110813.WEB

Juliet Piccone helps reunite her client Stallone with his family after being detained at a dog park, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

AS.Pit Bull.6815.110813.WEB

Frederick John Katz III (center) is reunited with his recently adopted pit bull Stallone, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

AS.Pit Bull.6825.110813.WEB

Kelly Anderson and her son (left) get some puppy love along with Frederick John Katz III who recently adopted Stallone and Stallone's lawyer Juliet Piccone, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

AS.Pit Bull.6839.110813.WEB

Frederick John Katz III is reunited with his recently adopted pit bull Stallone, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

AS.Pit Bull.6848.110813.WEB

Frederick John Katz III is reunited with his recently adopted pit bull Stallone, Nov. 8 at the Aurora Animal Shelter. Stallone was being transported from Arizona to New Jersey for adoption when he was taken by animal control officers after attacking a dachshund at an Aurora dog park. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For the Aurora Sentinel)

Councilwoman Renie Peterson is pushing the measure and said she expects a contentious debate. If the matter makes it before the full council, Peterson said she expects the vote to be very close.

“You just don’t really know until you get there,” she said.

The city’s Animal Care division has come out against lifting the ban, arguing it has worked well and lifting it would mean a flood of pit bulls from other metro-area cities where the dogs are still banned.

“The ban on pit bulls continues to effectively work as intended,” animal care staffers wrote in a memo urging council to keep the ban.

Under the city’s current rules, three breeds of dogs commonly recognized as pit bulls — American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers — are banned within the city limits. When city council first enacted the ban in 2005, there were 10 breeds barred from the city, but council in 2011 softened the ban to just three breeds and gave owners a chance to have their dog DNA-tested to prove whether they were in fact a banned breed.

Dogs who were already in the city at the time of the ban were allowed to stay if their owners paid a registration fee and followed certain restrictions.

According to the city’s numbers, about 90 registered pit bulls remain in the city, down from about 500 when the ban took effect. The city has euthanized more than 1,100 restricted-breed dogs since the ban.

Peterson said her plan calls for lifting the ban, but requiring owners of the three banned breeds to carry homeowners or renters insurance. It also increases the cost of a fine for owners of dogs that bite someone.

Under the ban, Peterson said there are people in Aurora who have pit bulls, but don’t get the dogs vaccinated or take them to the veterinarian out of fear that the dog will be seized.

“At least we are giving the people who are underground now the opportunity to come out,” she said.

Debates regarding the ban have often been acrimonious over the years, and some pit bull advocates are hoping to avoid that this time around.

Jennifer Bryant, community outreach director for ColoRADogs, a nonprofit that has been working with Peterson to lift the ban, said she has asked other advocates to keep the discussion calm and friendly.

“We could have some really productive discussion on how to move forward in Aurora if we can keep the discussion focused,” she said. “There is no reason for vitriol.”

About 50 other cities around the country have lifted their ban in recent years, according to figures from Aurora Animal Control. Still, more than 500 cities around the country and several other nations still ban certain breeds.

Opponents of the ban hope if Aurora drops its ban it could lead to similar measures in other states.

Juliet Piccone, a lawyer who has represented several clients cited for having a banned breed, said Aurora is an important first step in Colorado.

“That is the hope, but Denver is the one we really need to work on,” she said.

Denver’s ban has been in place since 1989.

  • Thank you for a well balanced article. We applaud CM Peterson for putting the issue back on the table, and focusing on what truly works for public safety. Breed neutral legislation allows all reckless owners to be held responsible regardless of breed. It places equal value on any individual who has been bitten, instead of placing one type of dog bite victim above another. It sends the clear message that all dogs are capable of biting, and all owners should be held responsible. It also allows increased funding sources for NGO’s to provide resources for owners in need. Not just pit bull owners, but all dog lovers. Working towards a safe humane community should be everyone’s goal, and we applaud all city officials who have the insight to work towards its end. We are discouraged that Animal Control still holds on to unfounded fears to justify opposition to moving forward. We have faith as they delve deeper into this issue, they will recognize that working with community partners, like other progressive shelters in the state, will both dispel their fears, and open up options for all dogs in their care.

  • Davyd

    The following organizations do not endorse breed specific
    legislation (BSL)

    1.
    The American Bar Association (ABA)

    2.
    American Kennel Club (AKC)

    3.
    American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
    to Animals (ASPCA)

    4.
    American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

    5.
    American Veterinary Medical Association PRIT
    (AVMA PLIT)

    6.
    Animal Farm Foundation (AFF)

    7.
    Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT)

    8.
    Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS)

    9.
    British Veterinary Association (BVA)

    10.
    Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
    (CDC)

    11.
    Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

    12.
    Maryland Veterinary Medical Association

    13.
    National Animal Control Association (NACA)

    14.
    National Canine Research Council (NCRC)

    15.
    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
    Animals – Australia (RSPCA)

    16.
    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
    Animals – United Kingdom (RSPCA)

    17.
    United Kennel Club (UKC)

    18.
    United States Department of Justice (DOJ)

    19.
    The White House Administration

    • MJC

      All the organizations you name are either dog freak organizations that value dogs higher than anything else on earth, organizations that are made up of people who benefit monetarily from pit bulls attacks, or those (specifically The White House Administration) that are attempting to appeal to the lower echelons of society in this year’s congressional and gubernatorial elections.

      • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

        Sir, your divisive attitude it part of the bigger constellation of “blame others, shirk responsibility, it is the other guy not me” attitude that is bringing our nation down. I can assure you, we pit bull owners are not part of a HUGE MONEY INDUSTRY. but a grass roots organization of working class people who are standing up for what is right. On your erroneous point of putting animals in front of people, who is doing that. I can assure you SIR, that I served my country for 17 years in uniform, including being a first responder during 9-11 where WE HELPED FELLOW AMERICANS, PEOPLE in case you do not understand that. And guess who helped US first responders, IT WAS THE RESCUE DOGS including countless numbers of pit bulls who put themselves on the line, they got sick first and they died first from 9-11 related illnesses. I am blessed that I only have chronic asthma and PTSD, many of my fellow first responders, including the rescue dogs, are much worse, and some even dead. So before you go foaming at the mouth–excuse the dog pun, check your ignorance at the door and get your facts straight. And by the way, my name is FREDERICK JOHN KATZ III, CPT (RET) MSC NJARNJ. So sire, you are calling ME or my FELLOW VETERANS “Lower echelons of society”…..you are pathetic..

  • Chef David Edelstein

    Kudos to the City of Aurora and Councilwoman Peterson for moving on this. Lets just hope that this move to possibly rescind the antiquated ordinance is just that and not some non-profit rescue’s way of making a name for themselves.

    Stalone has never looked better… sportin’ the Anti BSL Bandana.
    GO PIT BULL, GO TEAM PIT-A-FULL!!!

    • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

      David, check out that moron MJC’s comment above. I apologize for my aggressive response but I can not stand ignorant wusses.

  • Larissa Chmielewski-Ellis

    Thank you for addressing this issue! As we all know, there are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. As a resident of Aurora, a dog owner, and a bully breed lover, I am completely against breed specific legislation. You might say that it lowers the risk, but what it actually does is create deceit for those that continue to love their dogs and even more so for those that will choose to abuse their dogs. I think it’s a sensible thing for ANY dog owner to hold renters/homeowners insurance, no matter the breed.
    It’s quite unfortunate the blame that certain dog breeds receive because of ridiculous actions of people. Stiffer penalties for animal abusers can definitely make a difference if the animal cruelty laws are enforced.
    Please consider lifting the ban on these innocent animals and instead focus on the actual problem. Thank you!

  • Kate Goldberg

    One of the reasons I love living in Colorado is they way (most) people love animals so genuinely – regardless of breed. I hope Aurora will join the other cities across the nation repealing these antiquated bans and will set a precedent for the rest of out state.

  • I live in Denver.
    I am a cat person.
    I believe that breed bans are stupid, wrong, and scientifically indefensible.

    • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

      thank you Dave. I love pit bulls but also am a proud papa of a rescue cat. My pit bull girl is named Lucy, and her brother, my little boy, is named Sky. A wonderful cat companion to both my partner and me as well as Lucy. And who says cats and dogs do not get along…thanks for your support.

  • Kristen

    AWESOME!!! LET ALL BSL END!!! Wish I could get one of those bandanas that they have in those pix!

  • Erika Birk

    Best of luck, Aurora, on replacing this nonsense with common sense ordinances.

  • LaurenD

    Along with the well-reasoned posts from others such as ColoRADogs, I’d like you all to know as a former Aurora resident, one of the main reasons I moved out of town and can no longer go back to Aurora is the ban on pit bulls. I think of all of my entertainment/dining out dollars that Aurora and Denver have missed out on because I can’t bring my dog with me for the day. I am glad you are discussing repealing the ban and hope it is repealed.

    • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

      Ms. Lauren D. I applaud you for putting your money where your mouth is. WE ALL SHOULD follow your example. The only way we can hit these ignorant politicians is where it hurts, their pocket books… Thank you ….Stallone thanks you as do I –my name is Frederick John Katz III, I am the veteran mentioned in this article and along with countless others, helped rescue Stallone. By the way, Stallone went from just under 45 pounds when I got him, to over 100 pounds now. He looks more like a gentle bear than a dog. And he is living high on life now, as he deserves…At least one happy ending…

  • Hailstorm

    There are no bad breeds, simply bad owners. Why would we discriminate and punish dogs when humans should be receiving the consequences? Singling out one breed might appear as though it is helping the community but in reality it is causing stress for all dog owners in the area. I would love to see the pit bull ban lifted. All dogs should be treated as equals regardless of their breed.

  • Doxology

    I wish people would stop misusing the word “euthanize.” 1,100 dogs were not “euthanized” by the City of Aurora after the BSL took place. 1,100 were KILLED by the city. Euthanasia applies to a living being who is suffering terribly, and ending his or her life is an act of mercy. There is no mercy in killing a dog just because of its breed. It is unconscionable!

    • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

      thank you sir for your SPOT ON clarification. You are RIGHT…This is not euthanizing, we are murdering innocent animals. It is not humane, it is a genocide.

  • gouko787

    Incredible news.
    Thank you!!!

  • Lisa L

    I am glad to see this being brought back up for discussion in Aurora. It would be great to see dogs assessed on their individual behavior rather than on their appearance. Breed Specific Legislation should be removed and replaced with responsible ownership laws.

  • Daisy Rothschild

    Then it’s time to lift the ban on backyard chickens.

  • Claudia

    There is hope. As a responsible pitbull owner I am glad that the city is taking steps in the right direction…away from BSL. Legislation should be a tool to hold owners responsible.

  • Dave

    I love living in a common-sense state and city! These bans are ridiculous and only because SOMEONE/A FEW PEOPLE got bit/attacked by a Pitbull b/c the owners were useless scumbags! I have a Jack Russell Terrier that is more obedient than anyone could imagine. If he even TRIES to pull his collar, I just go, “UH!” and he sits down IMMEDIATELY, whether or not a dog is right there, a human, a squirrel, a bunny, anything. I proudly trained and disciplined him for teaching him right from wrong by MYSELF!! I am openly EXTREMELY AGAINST the leash-law! I work in Education, with students, but let me tell you…when we require CHILDREN WITH LEASHES, THEN I will follow the law! Until then…MY Jack Russell comes to Home Depot and every other store dogs are allowed, with me, and doesn’t make a peep. Yet, it is LAW to leash him, but NOT a law to leash the child that are dumping shampoo all over the floor at Walmart and Target and throwing glitter all over the place, while screaming and running?

    I know for a fact that my dog is more well-behaved than most children! Just saying… : )

  • Dave

    *children

  • fearnot

    lol I picture tons of “pit bulls” waiting to get into Aurora like in the Walking Dead.. that is what they want you to think that a “flood” of pit bulls are waiting to descend upon the populace.. honestly what bunk BSL is It costs the cities a bundle and kills thousand of pets “just because of the way they look” I like to think Denver lost the super bowl because so many of us hate the city for their stupid rules

  • Ashley In Aurora

    I too applaud CM Peterson for making an effort to lift the ban. However, I have little faith she will have the backing by co-council members or, the board of public safety to make it happen.
    It is not the breed of the dog but rather the training and containment of the dog that matters.
    I’d like to know if this city owns dogs of other breeds that have bitten people minus a command to do so?

  • What fantastic comments! One of the excuses we heard from Aurora Animal Care and Control was that people in state and in Aurora do not complain about the ban. Those complaints come from out of state while those in state asked for the ban to stay. We know that is not true! We have our blog up along with action items for advocates. You are rocking this Colorado! Well done!
    Stop by our website or Facebook to stay on top of whats going on.

  • A response from Brad Pierce who we know is for BSL. Aurora residents, let’s send those emails so CM Pierce listens.

    “Ms. Bell,

    Thank you for your email concerning pit bulls in Aurora, however I choose to listen to input from Aurora residents.

    Brad Pierce
    Aurora City Council”

  • MamalestiansforGenderEquality

    @MJC…Sir, your divisive attitude it part of the bigger constellation of “blame others, shirk responsibility, it is the other guy not me” attitude that is bringing our nation down. I can assure you, we pit bull owners are not some part of a HUGE MONEY INDUSTRY. but a grass roots organization of working class people who are standing up for what is right. Included in that group are countless active duty military members and veterans who adopt dogs as service animals for their PTSD, TBI and other service related disabilities. It was because of Veterans from all over the country who raised money (contributions of 5 to 10 dollars–oh yeah,according to you, big time money donors) to fly me out to Colorado in order to help me press for the rightful release of Stallone. On your erroneous point of putting animals in front of people, who is doing that?. I can assure you SIR, that I SERVED my country for 17 years in uniform (a proud US Army veteran), including being a first responder during 9-11, where WE HELPED FELLOW AMERICANS. Now fellow Americans means we helped PEOPLE in case you do not understand that. And guess who helped the first responders? IT WAS THE RESCUE DOGS including countless numbers of pit bulls who put themselves on the line. They got sick first and they died first from 9-11 related illnesses. I am blessed that I only have chronic asthma and PTSD, many of my fellow first responders, including the rescue dogs, are much worse, and some even dead. So before you go foaming at the mouth–excuse the dog pun, please check your ignorance at the door sir, and get your facts straight. And by the way, my name is FREDERICK JOHN KATZ III, CPT (RET) MSC NJARNJ. So sir, are you calling ME or my FELLOW VETERANS “Lower echelons of society”…..well if you are I am calling you PATHETIC,, with all due respect