The city's ban on the pit bull breed has created tension since 1989, but the most recent effort to bring awareness to it (and against it) is only two months old. Yesterday, the breed's supporters reached 6,500 signatures, significantly more than half their goal of 10,000.
But what does this actually change?
In the immediate future, nothing, says petition leader and Team Pit-A-Full founder David Edelstein. But this most recent effort isn't focused on immediate impact -- or even just on Denver.
Tired of regularly petitioning city council to overhaul Denver's breed-specific legislation prohibiting the animals, Edelstein and a rotating cast of about eight other pit bull owners have taken their petition to local streets and the Internet for the main purpose of spreading awareness. Edesltein, whose three adult pit bulls round out Team Pit-A-Full, insists that Denver is far behind a list of other North American cities already working to rewrite their own legislation regarding the breed.
"These are some very, very interesting times," he says, pointing out that the State of Ohio, the City of Miami and the legislature of Ontario, Canada, are currently recalling their own similar laws. "You've got three major BSL (breed-specific legislation) cities in North America getting rid of their bans after decades, and it really feels like there's a lot of change in the air."
In Colorado, the group has brought the petition to the 16th Street Mall and Boulder's Pearl Street, and it will be trekking to Golden this weekend and Colorado Springs in early March. Roughly 3,500 signatures shy of its eventual goal, the petition has attracted a heavy amount of attention overseas and in other states, where Edelstein hopes to hit his point the hardest.
"We can start in on affecting tourism, influencing people to purchase their homes elsewhere and really just paint the city ugly," Edelstein says. By portraying Denver as a judgmental community regarding the animals, he hopes to call attention to the hypocrisy he sees between here and other areas moving past their own pit bull hurdles. "Denver has been doing their own thing for too long, and it's time for some balance and accountability."
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If there's a specific call to action for the petition, it is to encourage Denver politicians to reexamine the city's ordinance against the breed. But Edelstein admits he doesn't think the petition alone will change this. After all, the ban has lasted 22 years.
When the petition reaches its final goal, organizers will submit the results to a number of national media outlets, in addition to again approaching the Denver City Council. In the meantime, Team Pit-A-Full is brainstorming a Denver rally in support of the breed for early March in an attempt to cement the city's solidarity.
"Locally, the response has been 100 percent positive," Edelstein says. "Maybe one out of the four different days we've canvassed, we've gotten one person saying, 'It's a vicious dog, keep the ban,' but they're strictly a minority. Thinking about why we still have the ban, then, it's an oddity."
More from our Politics archive: "Pit bull battle: Team Pit-A-Full creates an international petition in support of the breed."