Kafer: Will Aurora be the next Colorado city to ditch its unfair breed ban?

“She looks like a whippet-boxer or a whippet-pit mix,” I said. “She’s a whippet-boxer; I live in the city,” my friend replied. The distinction is important; the pit-mix designation could be a death sentence. That’s the capacious nature of breed bans. Ordinances in Denver, Aurora, and a handful of other municipalities in the state of Colorado ban American pit bull terriers and Staffordshire terriers regardless of the dogs’ disposition and behavior. The result is that good dogs get confiscated and euthanized, and no one is the safer for it.

Last year, the city of Castle Rock replaced its unfair pit bull ban with an ordinance that focuses on aggressive dogs of any breed and irresponsible owners. This year, City Councilman Charlie Richardson is proposing a similar reform for Aurora. His proposal targets bad behavior — not “bad” breeds. If passed by the city council, the new ordinance would also distinguish between minor offenders and truly dangerous dogs, a onetime mistake and chronic irresponsibility. The consequences are meted out appropriately with reckless dog owners losing their ability to own or keep a dog for five years.

Richardson’s proposal would restore common sense and fairness to the law. Dog and human behavior matter more than breed. Pit bull terriers aren’t different than other powerful and protective breeds such as Rottweilers, Chow Chows, Akitas, shepherds, Doberman pinschers and mastiffs. With training and socialization, they make wonderful pets. Councilman Richardson knows this personally. He and his wife own an Italian mastiff. Also known as a Cane Corso, Italian mastiffs look like supersized pit bull terriers. They put their dog Julius through special training to ensure he would be a good boy and he is. The councilman wants other responsible dog owners to have the same opportunity to lawfully keep their beloved dogs.

“Many people are unaware of the ban. It’s not listed on a rental agreement or home sale. It’s buried in a codebook,” he told me. Losing a dog is a high price to pay for being unaware.

The breed ban is also tough on the city’s animal care officers who are charged with removing pets from families. Officers have to put down dogs they know are a danger to no one.

A change in the ordinance would reflect evolving public perception about the breed. Attitudes are changing, says Richardson. Once associated with gangs and dog fighting, the terriers are more and more seen as service dogs and family companions. Councilman Richardson his own poll regarding the proposal on the city’s Nextdoor site indicates people are viewing the breed more favorably. Of the 200 or so responses, 62 percent wanted to repeal the breed ban, 30 percent wanted to keep it, and 8 percent wanted a new advisory vote like the city held in 2014.

Richardson’s proposal is timely. Aurora Animal Services and the City’s Attorney’s Office are in the process of a comprehensive rewrite of Chapter 14, the codes the cover household pets, beekeeping, and backyard chickens. In June, the city held three …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

      

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