Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Pit-bull service-dog exemption rejected by Denver City Council

Long before the Americans with Disabilities Act was revised to protect pit bulls as service dogs, critics have been snapping at Denver's 1989 ordinance that bans the breed. But last night, Denver City Council brushed aside both the critics and the feds in upholding the ban. And that bites!

As Jared Jacang Maher outlined in his October 2009 feature on Denver's pit-bull ban, enforcing the ordinance has been difficult from the start. Not only is it tough to prove that a dog is -- or isn't -- a pit bull, but science increasingly indicates that nurture, not nature, makes a bad dog. Denver should police the city for bad dogs, not profile a breed, they say.

Still, Denver's twenty-year-old ordinance continues to specifically ban pit bulls -- which means that on March 15, when the revised ADA takes effect, Denver law will be in conflict with the feds. But by a 9 to 4 vote last night, council members rejected an exemption to the ban for pit bulls serving as service animals.

Expect the next dog fight to be in the courts.

And in the meantime, you can anticipate seeing many more comments like this one, posted yesterday on our story that shows photos of pit bulls put to death by the city (the image above is cropped from one of them).

Today, it's Pit Bulls, tomorrow it could be your breed. Your dog could also be mistaken for a Pit if it has Boxer, Hound, Tennessee Treeing Brindle, or any one of a number of other breeds in it, and there won't be a thing you can do to keep it from being confiscated in one of these ridiculously ignorant jurisdictions. Dog bites are not a dog problem, they are a human problem - it's the humans who fail to socialize, train, and contain their dogs safely. That is NOT dependent upon breed. The photos are horrifying and reminiscent of Nazi mass graves, except the victims this time are animals. What kind of human being thinks this is any more ok than the suffering of any other living thing?

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Parking ticket Scrooge has no holiday spirit: Bah humbug!"

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun