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In November, Denver voters decided to lift the city’s long-standing pit bull ban. That made Aurora the largest parish in Colorado to ban possession of the most common pit breeds – until January 11, when Aurora City Council decided to lift its own ban by a margin of 7-3.
Ward III’s Marsha Berzins was one of the trio that rejected the proposal, and she made it clear that she feared the change would lead to disaster. As quoted by the Aurora Sentinel, she said, “If a terrible accident happens, remember that you voted to have her back in town.”
The change has been a long time coming, as shown in the following timetable, which is on the Council’s agenda on January 11th:
On October 24, 2005, the City Council approved Ordinance 2005-84 amending Chapter 14 of the City Code in
Add a new section, section 14-75, which is about banning keeping, owning, or possessing pit bulls
and other restricted dog breeds in town. The ordinance came into force on November 26, 2005.
On May 8, 2009, the 10th District Court upheld Section 14-75 of the City Code in the case of Am. canine
Foundation v City of Aurora, 618 F. Supp. 2. 1271 (D. Colo. 2009). The court ruled the city
had a legitimate purpose in the passage of the Pit Bull and Restricted Race Prohibition Ordinance, which the
Protecting the health and safety of the public and complying with the regulation.
May 9, 2011, City Council approves Ordinance 2011-11 amending the Restricted Breeds Ordinance
Reduce the number of restricted breed dogs from ten breeds to three breeds. The three races
The section 14-75 prohibition was consistent with breeds restricted by surrounding jurisdictions.
On November 4, 2014, the citizens of Aurora, Colorado voted on the advisory, no-obligation election question:
“Should the people of Aurora pass an ordinance allowing pit bulls to return to town?” The ballot
The question failed with 64,251 or 64.4 percent “no” votes and 35,515 or 35.6 percent “yes” votes.
On August 17, 2020, the city council decided not to ask an election question for the statewide general
Election on November 3, 2020 repealing Section 14-75 of the City Code in relation to the illegal
Keeping dogs of restricted breed.
On December 7, 2020, the city council approved to postpone this item to a regular council meeting.
These are just a few of the twists and turns of the ban. In July 2019, we spoke to Aurora Councilor Charlie Richardson, who was then working with colleague Allison Hiltz on a proposal that outlined efforts to deal with aggressive animals in general as opposed to the destruction of certain breeds.
Richardson is no longer a member of the council, but Hiltz remains in her position, and after the vote tweeted about her joy in getting a repeal “after three years of hard work” that included shorting out the mayor-sponsored proposal for an election question, Mike Coffman.
In last night’s vote, several passages were removed from the Aurora Bylaws, including the following: “‘Restricted Breed’ for the purposes of this chapter is defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier or a dog that is exhibited the majority of the physical traits or genetic markers of one or more of the breeds listed above, or of a dog exhibiting such distinguishing features as are essentially those set out by the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club for any of the above Breeds meet established standards. “
Among those who hailed the latest development was Dr. Apryl Steele, President and CEO of the Denver Dumb Friends League. Your declaration to the council about the repeal answers the rhetorical question: “Why does this change need to be made now?”
“Too many families have been separated because their family dog is a prohibited breed,” she said. “Not because the dog showed signs of aggression. Not because the dog injured another animal or person. These are dogs that sleep on their owner’s beds, dogs that are at a time of extreme isolation and critical mental health problems make an essential society. ” For many, having a relationship with a pet is the only reason to enter the world right now. Eliminating this source of comfort at this extreme time is unjustifiable. “
Berzins clearly disagrees.
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Michael Roberts has been writing for Westword since October 1990 and has worked as a music editor and media columnist. It currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.