Dog Pound Puppy Pitbull

A bill to loosen Denver’s 1989 pit bull ban is moving forward, but with a couple of tweaks.

The first change would require that pit bull owners spay or neuter their pets to obtain the breed-restricted license. Prior to the amendment, which was passed during a Denver City Council meeting on Monday night, owners would be able to obtain an “intact” permit for breeding purposes.

Denver Councilman Chris Herndon, who’s leading the proposal, said the change was a result of concerns raised by his colleagues, including Councilwoman At-Large Robin Kniech.

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“I certainly don’t think we want to become the center of breeding pit bulls during a period of time that we are adjusting to this new license,” Kniech said Monday night. “This is the most appropriate and cautious course.”  

The second amendment, also approved during the council meeting, would shorten the reporting period from five years to two years for Denver Animal Protection to provide data around the issue, including the number of bites and compliance violations.

Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore on Monday night was one of two members who voted against the amended bill. She said neighborhoods in her district, which includes Montbello and Green Valley Ranch, have struggled to comply with existing laws, such as dog registration, microchipping, vaccinations and leashing.  

“I’m concerned that this will further compound the compliance issues we already have, so I will be voting ‘no’ tonight,” she said.

Councilwoman At-Large Deborah Ortega also rejected the bill. She said the input her office is receiving is 2 to 1 in opposition of changing or repealing the ban.

Councilman Chris Hinds on Monday night made clear he would be voting in favor of the bill. Councilman Jolon Clark also said in an earlier safety committee hearing that he would be supporting Herndon’s bill “throughout.”

Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer voted in favor of both amendments “not because I’m sure whether I’ll voting ‘yes’ next week or not, but because Councilman [Kevin] Flynn requested a public hearing for next week,” she said. “I think it’s really important that the public have the opportunity to come and speak and share their opinions.”

In an 11-2 vote, the bill will advance for a second reading next week with a courtesy public hearing, which was requested by Flynn.

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