Election

Denver’s 2020 ballot measures: The one about pit bulls

2J asks whether you want to let pit bulls legally live in Denver.

Carmen, the pit bull/lab mix, lives in Golden with her human, Barbara Bronon, where she doesn't worry much about Denver's breed restrictions. Aug. 12, 2020.

Carmen, the pit bull/lab mix, lives in Golden with her human, Barbara Bronon, where she doesn't worry much about Denver's breed restrictions. Aug. 12, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Pit bulls have been illegal in Denver since 1989, outlawed after some high-profile attacks on residents, including a fatal attack on a child. More than 30 years later, voters will decide on the first meaningful effort to effectively end the ban by creating a system around it.

Ballot measure 2J creates a path for these dogs — American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeds — to be legal in the city. It does not overturn the city’s pit bull ban, but rather creates a law to work around it.

What the ballot actually says: Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an ordinance authorizing the city to grant a provisional permit to owners or keepers of a pit bull, provided the owner microchips the animal and complies with additional requirement set by Denver Animal Protection?

What the ballot actually means: You’re being asked whether you support creating a permit system for pit bull breeds that lets owners register their dogs in Denver. Owners would need to register their dogs with the city, pay a fee, provide the city with an emergency contact, and include a description of the dog and proof of vaccination. It would place a limit of two dogs per household. If the dog doesn’t have any violations for 36 consecutive months, it would be allowed to register in the city like any other dog.

Who supports it: An organization called Replace Denver BSL (breed-specific legislation) has advocated for the measure. The group is run by Denver residents, and several have spoken during committee and council meetings, arguing the city’s pit bull ban is ineffective. The goal is to replace the city’s ban altogether. A majority of City Council members voted to pass a similar bill in February.

Who’s against it: There doesn’t seem to be any organized efforts against the bill. Residents oppose the measure, including people who live in Montbello — where calls about pit bulls are common — who spoke against the measure when it was heard as a council bill earlier this year. Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed a similar bill passed by city council in February.

Check out our comprehensive voting guide here. Happy voting!

Want some more? Explore other Election stories.

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