Pit bulls will remain illegal in Denver

The Denver City Council on Monday was unable to overturn Mayor Hancock’s veto for a bill ending the ban.

Cindy the pit bull is set to be transferred out of the Denver Animal Shelter, Jan. 17, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Cindy the pit bull is set to be transferred out of the Denver Animal Shelter, Jan. 17, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The city’s pit bull ban will stay in place after Councilman Chris Herndon on Monday failed to get enough votes to overturn Mayor Michael Hancock’s veto on the bill Herndon introduced ending the ban.

City council needed nine votes to overturn Hancock’s veto. It voted 8-5.

Councilmembers Kendra Black, Candi CdeBaca, Jolon Clark, Herndon, Chris Hinds, Robin Kniech, Amanda Sandoval and Jamie Torres voted in favor of the veto override. Councilmembers Kevin Flynn, Stacie Gilmore, Paul Kashmann, Debbie Ortega and Amanda Sawyer voted against it.

“These dogs do not bite at a greater propensity than others,” Herndon said before the vote; he cited experts who supported his bill and suggested the dogs aren’t more dangerous than other breeds. “I’m getting to a point where I’m running out of sources.”

The measure would have allowed owners to register their dogs with several restrictions. All dogs are supposed to be registered with the city, but the bill would have created a special license just for pit bulls.

Hancock vetoed the bill on Feb. 14, four days after city council voted by a slim margin to approve it. Hancock vetoed the bill after hearing from hundreds of residents. He cited low registration figures among existing dog owners and the risk of injury posed by pit bull attacks as reasons for his decision. It’s the first bill he’s ever vetoed as mayor.

“We do have people who are not responsible dog owners,” Hancock said Friday in an interview with CPR News. “I want you to know that most of my review, after looking at all the information, data, it was those folks who most concerned me, along with the impact of bites by pit bulls oftentimes leading to severe injuries or fatalities.”

The saga this month is the latest chapter in the ban’s long and controversial history. The ban was enacted in 1989 following a series of high-profile pit bull attacks, including a fatal attack involving a child. While people who wanted to see the ban repealed mentioned pit bulls as caring family pets, others who wanted it to remain law mentioned public safety for children and the elderly as reasons why they wanted it to remain on the books.

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