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Denver eradicating pit bulls, but not dog bites

The city of Denver, while it has killed 1,667 pit bulls since reinstituting its ban on the breed in 2005 — that’s about one a day — says it can’t say “with certainty” whether the ban is working.

Clearly, though, its doggie death chamber is functioning just fine.

According to a story in yesterday’s Denver Daily News, the city’s only free paper, city officials say they have no evidence that the ban is not working, and no evidence that it is.

That’s because there hasn’t been a serious pit bull attack in Denver since the 1989 mauling of Rev. Wilbur Billingsley, who was left with more than 70 bites and two broken legs. Three years before that, a 3-year-old boy was killed by a pit bull.

Those incidents resulted in the City Council banning pit bulls from the city. In 2004, Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill prohibiting local municipalities from enacting breed-specific legislation, but Denver challenged the statute and enforcement resumed in May 2005.

Labrador retrievers, meanwhile, have been allowed to go about their lives as normal in the Mile High City — even though they are the most frequent biters, responsible for 13.3 percent of all bites in the area, according to the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers.

That data was released last week by the Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs.

Pit bulls are second, making up for 8.4 percent of bites, followed by German shepherds at 7.8 percent.

Several other Denver metro towns and cities — including Englewood and Lakewood — examined dog bite data and decided breed-specific legislation is not as effective as stricter aggressive and dangerous dog laws, which hold owners responsible for their pets.

Between 1995 and 2006, Denver had almost six times as many dog-related hospitalizations compared to Boulder, even though Denver’s population is only about twice that of Boulder. During that 12-year period, Denver experienced 273 dog-related hospitalizations, while Boulder experienced only 46, according to statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“I find it interesting that the only area, region, county or city in Colorado with a breed ban happens to be the only county with a higher than normal rate of dog bite hospitalizations,” said Karen Delise, founder of the National Canine Research Council. “The breed ban isn’t working, it’s not addressing education or irresponsible owners.”


Comment from cygnet1
Time March 5, 2009 at 8:12 am

Actually, dog lovers in most cities the size of Denver would be absolutely thrilled if their shelters were only killing one pit bull per day. When it comes to urban shelters, struggling to deal with the pit bull crisis, that is an amazingly small number.

NOT having breed specific legislation means that pit bulls suffer and die way more frequently than having it. Los Angeles, for example, kills about 120 pit bulls a day, according to Delise.

That doesn’t mean that Denver’s solution (an absolute breed ban) is the best one. It isn’t. The best solution is breed specific regulation that allows responsible pit bull owners to keep their dogs but regulates pit bull breeding to protect the dogs and communities. Mandatory microchipping of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes and mandatory spay/neuter of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes except AKC and UKC-PR registered show dogs would accomplish this without even seriously invonveniencing a single responsible pit bull owner.

Comment from Lee
Time November 8, 2009 at 2:01 am

Way to go Denver for taking the right action to protect the public from these pitbulls. These are dangerous breeds and need to be eradicated from the face of the earth. They are the Tyrannesaurus Rex that continues to co-exist with society. Let them be extinct!

Comment from Reb
Time March 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Pit bull bites are more severe and can often involve severed body parts, broken bones and life threatening wounds. Pit bulls were bred to be aggressive, savage and tenacious. They are not suitable to be kept as a household pet by just anyone who wants one. They need to be regulated or banned nation wide.

Comment from Rudy
Time September 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hey how dare you say they shall be extinct. I have never met a mean pitbull every one was a family dog just like any other dog! I’ve been attacked by a German Shepard and a wolf like German Shepard breed. So should those be extinct too? No! How ignorant are you.You are lame to its fullest potential