It’s “where the heck is BSL anyway?” Wednesday. This week we head south of the Canadian border and focus on a major BSL offender: Denver, Colorado
Denver is home to approximately 600,000 people and to an animal control ordinance that openly discriminates against “pit bull” type dogs. On August 7, 1989, a “pit bull” ban was put into force that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of family pets and unclaimed dogs.
A “pit bull” for the purposes of this ordinance is defined as “any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.”
During the period of April 31, 2004 to May 8, 2005, the ban was placed on suspension due to Governor Bill Owners signing a Colorado law that prohibited cities and counties from discriminating against specific breeds of dogs. The City was not pleased with this decision as it was said to violate Denver’s “Home Rule” and they sued the state of Colorado. (Home Rule is when a city or county operates under its own government that prevents the State from dictating local ordinances – in this case, animal control laws). Unfortunately, a judge agreed with the City’s claim to “Home Rule” being violated and the ban was re-enacted.
Despite numerous attempts to have this legislation repealed, the ban is still actively punishing dogs based solely on their physical appearance.
Should you be suspected of harbouring a “pit bull” type dog you will be ordered to have your dog evaluated by three certified staff members who will determine if the majority of your dog's physical traits are consistent with the kennel club standards. If this is determined, you can apply within seven days for a hearing to challenge the decision.
If you do not do this, or if the results of the hearing aren’t in your favour, you have two options. You can send your dog to an area which does not enact BSL, paying all transport, relocation and impounds costs yourself and providing proof of relocation; or your dog is “disposed of” by the City.