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Aurora officials reviewing disabled man’s request to license pit bull as a service animal

AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora family is concerned their service dog could be put down because it is a pit bull and the breed is banned in the city.

A lawyer for the family said Thursday that city officials have denied a request to license the dog as a service animal.

However, city officials said they only received the request from the attorney that morning and hadn’t been given adequate time to review it.

“There’s been no denial by the city of Aurora of a request from a disabled man from Aurora to license a pit bull as a service animal. The owner’s attorney sent a letter of request to the city at 11:35 a.m. Thursday and the city would appreciate time to allow for a thorough review and the opportunity to respond to the owner,” city spokesman Michael Bryant said.

Diamond’s owner, Mitchell Herman, has autism and suffers from several mental illnesses. If Herman has an emotional episode, Diamond pulls him out of that state, his family said. Without Diamond’s help, they say their lives are in upheaval.

The 7-year-old pit bull escaped from the family’s home on April 7 and was picked up by Aurora Animal Services. The city wouldn’t release Diamond back to her family.

The family said the city shouldn’t be holding the dog because they claim she’s a service animal and protected by federal law.

Aurora’s ordinance says it allows pit bulls as service dogs. But a city spokesman said owners must have a specific pit bull license, which Diamond does not.

On Thursday, Herman’s attorney said the civil city attorney representing Aurora Animal Services denied Herman’s request to have Diamond licensed with the city as a restricted breed.

Herman filed the request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to his attorney, Juliet Piccone.

It will be up to the court to determine the disposition of Diamond, Piccone stated. In a worst-case scenario, the city could eventually euthanize the pit bull.

The family faces several charges, including a dog running at large, having a restricted breed and no license.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to pay for the fees and a lawyer to help get Diamond back home.

The family said it is also working to find a home outside of Aurora, in a city that allows pit bulls.