Denver, Colorado has become the most notorious city in the United States regarding pit bull bans. It has also been the city that other municipalities look at when drafting their own forms of breed specific legislation.
In 1989, the authorities in Denver drafted a bill that would ban all dogs that looked like an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier or a Staffordshire Bull Terrier — or "any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds." In July of the same year, the bill was made law. This was protested heavily, but the Supreme Court decided to uphold it.
The pit bulls currently in the city were "grandfathered" in, as long as the owner was over 21, registered the dogs with the city, had at least $100,000 worth of liability insurance, paid an annual licence fee, had the dog spayed or neutered, and posted signs at every entrance of their home that a PIT BULL DOG was inside.
GETTING RID OF THE PIT BULLS
This first set of dogs was the only "safe" group of pit bulls in Denver. Strays or ones that ended up in the shelters and were not immediately claimed were euthanized.
The ban was lifted for one year in 2004, awaiting a Colorado State Supreme Court ruling on whether it was constitutional. It was upheld and reinstated in 2005.
At this time, city authorities decided to crack down on illegal pit bulls. When one was found, no matter the temperament of the dog, it was killed. Under the law, if an owner refused to surrender the dog, the offense was punishable by a $999 fine and a year in prison.
THE COST OF BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION
It is estimated that in the first ten years BSL was in effect, Denver's shelters euthanized 3,497 pit bulls. The number is still climbing every day.
Meanwhile, Denver, Colorado maintains its status as the city with the most dog bite hospitalizations in the state. It is a perfect example of how breed specific legislation not only kills innocent dogs by the thousands, but it simply does not work to improve public safety.