Mayor Hancock vetoes ending Denver pit bull ban

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DENVER (KDVR) -- Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Friday he will veto a measure that would have ended the city’s longstanding ban on pit bull ownership.

On Monday, Denver City Council passed the measure in a 7-4 vote.

It is Hancock's first veto since he started serving as mayor in July 2011. His third and final term as mayor ends in 2023.

The change was proposed by Councilman Chris Herndon, who represents a portion of northeast Denver that includes the Park Hill and Stapleton neighborhoods.

Under a law enacted in August 1989, pit bulls are banned in the city and county of Denver.

The new measure would have required pit bull owners to obtain a “breed-restricted license.” Applicants would provide the city with their address, two emergency contacts, a description of the pit bull, an annual fee, and proof the dog was microchipped and has its rabies vaccination.

Each owner could have had a maximum of two pit bulls per household. Spaying or neutering the dogs was required under the proposal.

Additionally, the owner would have had to notify Denver Animal Protection (DAP) within eight hours if the dog escaped or bites. The owner would have also had to contact DAP if the dog died or if the owner moved.

If a registered pit bull had no violations within 36 months, the breed-restricted license could have been replaced with a regular dog license that all other dog owners in the city are required to have.

Under the measure, DAP would have been the only agency to provide valid pit bull breed assessments.

DAP could have held, transported and adopted any pit bull. Pit bulls adopted from DAP would have gotten a breed-restricted license.

While any humane society registered with the city could have also held, transported and adopted pit bulls, new owners would have had to get a breed-restricted license from the city following adoption.

According to the proposal, DAP would have been able to inspect an owner’s premises for “safety and health reasons.”

Finally, after a two-year period, DAP would have reviewed the data and reported its findings and recommendations to City Council.

If an owner did not apply for the special license, they would have been subject to criminal and/or administrative penalties.

Other metro-area municipalities with pit bull bans include Aurora, Commerce City and Lone Tree.

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