Colorado communities ponder aging bans on pit bulls

A pit bull (GabyCalvo, iStock)

A petition calling on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to veto a bill that would allow pit bulls within city limits has raised more than 400 signatures over a three-day period.

The petition, led by Paul Vranas, argues that there is “zero evidence” that any of the regulations included outlined in Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon’s bill will be followed. Opponents argue that if signed into law, the ordinance “disproportionately impacts marginalized people in poor communities.”

Vranas delivered the petition to Hancock’s office on Thursday. He was joined by several other community members, including co-chair of Montbello 20/20 Pam Jiner.

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Jiner was one of many Montbello residents who testified in opposition of the bill during a courtesy public hearing prior to City Council’s 7-4 vote greenlighting the ordinance. Montbello residents said the dogs are dangerous by nature and make them feel unsafe when walking around their neighborhood. They also pointed to the prevalence of attacks across the country.

Hancock’s office said he “wants to be thoughtful regarding his decision about this and as such, he hasn’t decided to sign the ordinance or not at this time.”

Mayor’s office spokesman Mike Strott said Hancock has until Sunday to make a decision, and there are three possible scenarios that could play out: He signs the legislation, and the law takes effect in 90 days; he vetoes the bill and punts it back to Denver City Council, which would require a super majority, or nine votes, to overrule him; or he takes no action, meaning the ordinance automatically becomes law on Sunday.

Another petition in favor of Hancock approving the new pit bull law, launched Thursday by Brett Gorges, has garnered more than 130 signatures.

“Breed Specific Legislation is counter-effective, misguided, and unjust,” the petition webpage states. “Do not punish properly raised and treated Pit Bulls and their families for no viable reason.”

According to a 2019 report by QuoteWizard, Colorado has the third-lowest average insurance payout for dog bites in the country at $29,900 per claim in 2018 with 357 dog bites. The state paid more than $10.5 million in insurance dog bite claim payouts that year.

Nationally, the average insurance payouts for dog bite claims increased by 103% between 2003 and 2018.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that dogs bite an average of 4.5 million each year.

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