CVMA supports Denver ordinance to amend breed restrictions

CVMA supports Denver ordinance to amend breed restrictions

With the 2020 legislative session underway, CVMA is actively monitoring, supporting, and opposing a variety of legislative matters on behalf of CVMA members and the Colorado veterinary community.

One is a proposed Denver city ordinance that would amend Denver’s Ordinance Section 8-67 (Pit Bulls Prohibited). Under the proposed amendment, pit bulls could be owned and kept within the city of Denver provided the owner obtained a breed-restricted license.

CVMA actively supports this legislation and is working with Denver City Councilman Christopher Herndon, the bill’s sponsor. CVMA will testify with the Dumb Friends League and the American Veterinary Medical Association in support of the bill.

“While breed-specific restrictions might seem to make sense, there is no credible evidence to indicate they are effective — and no reliable data to support the idea that any specific dog breeds are more dangerous than others,” said CVMA CEO Diane Matt.

Under the new ordinance, owners would register their pit bull with Denver Animal Protection (DAP) to get a “breed-restricted license.” A license application requires:

  • Name and address where the dog will primarily reside
  • Two emergency contacts
  • Accurate description of the pit bull
  • Annual fee
  • Proof the animal was microchipped and received current rabies vaccination

Other proposed conditions of ownership stipulate the following:

  • A maximum of two pit bulls per household
  • Owners must notify DAP within eight hours if the dog escapes or bites
  • Owners must notify DAP within 24 hours if the dog dies or the owner moves

After three years without violations of Section 8, the dog would be eligible for an unrestricted license. The bill would be reviewed after a period of five years.

Current city law defines a pit bull as any dog considered an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or “any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds” as defined by the standards established by American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.

Controlled studies by the AVMA show that pit bulls are not disproportionately dangerous compared with other dogs. Additional data and studies reveal that more than 100 cities have repealed their bans entirely.

“Any dog can bite,” Matt said. “A breed ban is a simplistic response to a far more complex social problem. Veterinarians, governmental leaders, and citizens must work together to create a coordinated, multidisciplinary, and adequately resourced approach to dog bite prevention. This should not be based on breed, but instead on promoting responsible pet ownership.”

CVMA will testify in support of the ordinance during a Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee hearing on Wednesday, January 22.