Across the United States, many locations have breed-specific legislation in place that bans Pit Bulls. This breed has earned a bad reputation for aggressive behavior, which has led to strict rules being put in place regarding who can keep them and where they can live. It is a subject that has caused a big divide. On the one hand, there are dog lovers fighting against this discriminative legislation as they believe that it is wrong to punish an entire breed for the behavior of a few animals. On the other hand, there are those who agree with the legislation and are fighting to keep the laws in place.
This controversial subject has come to the fore once again, as a mayor in Denver has overturned a new law that allows people to keep Pit Bulls, says I Heart Dogs. Due to popular demand, there was a proposal to end the breed-specific legislation in Denver so that Pit Bulls could live within the city and in the county. However, Mayor Michael Hancock has vetoed this proposal. A vote took place within Denver City Council, and the results were 7-4 in favor of dropping the legislation. Although there was a majority vote, the approval of Mayor Hancock was still needed for the new code. Although he has been in office since July 2011, Mayor Hancock has never vetoed a new bill until now.
Mayor Hancock had received a huge amount of feedback from people living in the area who supported the new law. However, he decided not to permit the legislation. The mayor used his Twitter account to inform people of his decision and to defend the reasons behind his actions. He acknowledged that he had heard from thousands of people on both sides of the debate, before announcing that after careful consideration and deep reflection, he would not approve the legislation. He did not feel that his conscience could allow him to support the legislation. He then went on to say that he was exercising his right and authority as the mayor to veto the bill. The main reason cited by Mayor Hancock for his decision was safety. He believes that the safest option is to keep the current breed-specific legislation in place. In his opinion, allowing the new bill would pose a safety risk for the residents of Denver.
While some agree with his views, there are animal lovers who were supporting the new legislation who disagree with the opinions of the mayor. In their view, Pit Bulls are no more dangerous and pose no more risk to public safety than any other breed of dog. They also believe that it is not the dogs that should suffer any consequences, but the owners who fail to train or care for them properly. There are even people in public positions who are opposed to Mayor Hancock’s decision. One example is Governor Jared Polis, says The Denver Post. The governor waded into the debate just days after Mayor Hancock cemented the ban on Pit Bulls in Denver. The governor tweeted a photograph of himself lounging on a couch with a mixed Pit Bull puppy on Twitter, which drew the support of many of those who are supporting the removal of the ban.
The photograph was accompanied by a post explaining that the Pit Bull pup was a rescue dog called Freda that belongs to a friend. Polis then said that the dog had accompanied him to the governor’s mansion in Denver. At the end of the post, he wrote ‘(shhh…)’, which was a clear reference to the fact that this breed of dog is banned in Denver. In the United States and many other countries, Pit Bulls are by far the most discriminated against dog breed. There are many areas that have completely banned the breed from city limits, and they are also banned at many schools and from air travel. One of the problems that this causes is that people who already own a Pit Bull and are moving to an area where they are banned must surrender their dogs to rescue shelters. This means that animal shelters are often inundated with Pit Bulls.
Denver, Colorado, has been one of the cities that has banned Pit Bulls for more than 30 years. If the new bill had been passed by Mayor Michael Hancock, this would have changed in 90 days from the new code being put in place. Now that the mayor has vetoed the new code, nothing will change in Denver. Due to the current laws that are in place in Denver, there have been some tragic stories over the years. One story that was highlighted by I Heart Dogs was that of Desiree Arnold and her Pit Bull Coco. Animal control seized Coco from her home for the second time in June 2008 and was taken to the animal shelter. Although Arnolds tried to sue the city for taking her dog, the case was prolonged and it became very difficult for Arnold to visit her dog in the shelter. In the end, Arnold gave up her fight and Coco was euthanized. The most heartbreaking part of this story was that the city returned Coco’s dead body to Arnold in a garbage bag.
Many hoped that the new legislation would prevent situations like this from ever happening again. They also hoped that it would stop people moving to the area from having to surrender their Pit Bulls to shelters before making the move to this city. Sadly, this is not the case now that the new code has been vetoed. Of course, this current situation has reopened the long-standing debate surrounding Pit Bulls. It remains a contentious issue that widely divides opinion. Unfortunately, it is likely that this debate will continue in the long-term as neither side is likely to change their opinions regarding breed-specific legislation.