Need a pit bull permit? Hurry, Denver Animal Protection is providing them for free.

Breed-restricted permit fees cost about $75 not including microchips and vaccines.
3 min. read
Apollo, an Australian Cattle Dog and American Pit Bull Terrier mix, is up for adoption.
Courtesy of Denver Animal Shelter

Still haven't registered your pit bull with the city? Well, now is the time because Denver Animal Protection is providing free breed-restricted permits for "a limited time."

In January 2021, voters overturned the city's decades-long ban on pit bulls by creating an additional permitting system (all dogs and cats have to be licensed by the city). Owners are required to bring their dog into a Denver Animal Shelter so the furry friend can undergo an evaluation to receive a permit.

The law applies to the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier and states that in order to own one, Denverites need a permit.

But DAP Compliance Coordinator Derek Scott previously said misinformation and misunderstanding combined with the lengthy process and fees are causing issues with the permitting process.

The pit permit process begins with a visual assessment that determines whether or not the dog is predominantly a pit. This costs $25.

Denver Animal Protection declared Walter a lab mix, so he's now a legal resident of the city. He lives in Highland with his parents. Aug. 11, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Three staff members complete the assessment by using a checklist examining the dog's body structure. Scott said all three staff members have to unanimously agree that the dog is a pit. If they don't come to an agreement, a pit permit isn't needed.

If they agree, owners will get a regular Denver pet license, which is $15, and the breed-restricted permit, which is an additional $30. On top of these fees, once the assessment and pit determination is complete, owners are required to microchip, vaccinate and spay/neuter their pet.

Microchips can cost between $20 and $100 and spay/neuter could cost a couple of hundred dollars. Vaccines may run from $20 to $40.

"The fees aren't everything... but I think one of the bigger barriers is knowing there is a cost associated with the permit," Scott previously said. "Just knowing there are fees associated with the permit can be a reason people aren't coming in. People can have everything they need to get their dog permitted but the cost of living in Denver is expensive. If it comes down to my last $70, (and it) is either going to feed my family or permit my dog, I'm probably going to feed my family."

Hershey, Labrador Retriever and American Pit Bull Terrier mix, is up for adoption.
Courtesy of Denver Animal Shelter

In a news release, DAP said they're hoping the free permits encourage more people to get their pits licensed. Folks can stop by the shelter between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day. DAP added that they also provide financial assistance for microchips and vaccines on a case-by-case basis.

Overall, the permits are good for three years. If violations occur, such as off-leash tickets or biting (which apply to all pets in Denver) the three-year term will restart. If not, you're pit no longer needs a breed-restricted permit just the regular pet license, which is $15 for the year or $40 for three years.

In July, the national nonprofit Petco Love gave DAP a $10,000 grant to help promote the permits and help owners with the fees. The free permits will be offered until the grant money runs out.

According to the release, 441 dogs have received permits since the law went into effect in 2021.

Since the permitting program began, more than 167 pit bulls were adopted. There are currently about six mixed pitties up for adoption including big-eared Apollo and milk chocolate-y Hershey. Head to the shelter to check them out and the free permits.

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