Denver mayor vetoes bill to stop breed specific legislation


Emilee Wagner

Gunner, a two-year old blue nosed pit bull, stares longingly at the camera waiting for someone to pet him.

Emilee Wagner, Editor

Friday, Feb. 14, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced via a letter posted on social media that he will be using his power as Mayor to veto a bill that would lift the citywide ban on Pitbulls. The internet has had a wide variety of reactions, one calling for breed-specific legislation, or BSL, to end.

For so long, pit bulls have been more misunderstood than any other breed. When you think of pit bulls, many people think of vicious animals. However, that could not be farther from the truth. The term Pit Bull is not actually the breed but merely an overarching term. There are four breeds of pit bulls: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bully, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Staffordshire terrier. While these are the most common breeds, there is always a chance that your dog, if he/she is a mutt or even if they are not a mutt, is part Pit. In fact, a lot of the dogs in shelters are either mostly pit bull or have a small amount of pit bull in them. However, these dogs are not malicious. It is very rare and case by case but there is a chance that any breed of dog can be aggressive. Just because a dog is a certain breed does not mean that he or she is automatically aggressive. A German shepherd can be aggressive, a dachshund can be aggressive, and even a chihuahua can be aggressive. Those breeds are not tormented and banned so why are pit bulls?

In his letter to the public, Mayor Hancock said: “I have concluded that it [the legislation] would pose an increased risk.”

Do all dogs then pose a serious risk? Pit Bulls, while many assume that they are bred to fight and be aggressive, are actually very docile dogs. A dog’s personality is often due to the person that raised him/her. So then why punish the dogs that are only doing what they were trained to do? And even after many pit bulls are saved from fighting they are very gentle and kind dogs who only want to please their owner. The Pit Bull Ban has put so many pit bulls down that deserved a chance at life. So many dogs were taken away from their owners and put down because people think they are horrible animals. How can you euthanize animals that have shown no signs of being aggressive and are in fact amazing dogs who deserve better than the ban that presides over the city of Denver?

In an article from the ASPCA, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on their position on pit bulls, they said “All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together.”

In the article, the ASPCA addresses the fact that banning specific breeds does not help because you are only banning one breed. They also mention the fact that Pitbulls were originally bred to be nanny dogs, not fighting dogs. Many other organizations have also come forward, before Mayor Hancock’s letter, about how restrictions for aggressive dogs should not be based on the breed but the dog’s individual temperament. They also address the fact that pit bull attacks actually take up only a small percentage of the overall dog attacks each year shows that pit bulls are not naturally aggressive and should not be put down because not all pit bulls are the same.

The Denver City Council voted on Monday, Feb. 24 but failed to overturn the veto. These dogs are innocent animals and punishing them for their owners’ mistakes is cruel. And punishing the dogs that have not done anything because of the few that have actually attacked people is unfair. As humans, we need to do more to protect these dogs and show others that they do not deserve the unfair treatment that has been happening to them for so long.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email