Denver Pit Bull Lawsuit Gets New Life

Dog owners win ruling granting a trial to fight constitutionality of breed ban.

Posted: June 2, 2009, 5 a.m. EDT

An appeal challenging the constitutionality of a Denver breed ban has been allowed to move forward by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The decision favors plaintiffs Sonya Dias, Hillary Engel and Sheryl White in their appeal challenging the city’s breed ban, which prohibits pit bull-type dogs within the city limits. Specifically, the Denver ordinance bans ownership or possession of, and calls for the euthanization of, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier, or any dog with a majority of physical traits of one or more of these breeds within the city and county.

The dog-owning plaintiffs, Dias, Engel and White, have asserted that the breed ban is unconstitutional. The original lawsuit filed by the three former Denver residents stated that they were forced to move out of the city with their dogs because of the ban, which they claimed was a violation of their constitutional rights.

This ruling reverses the United States District Court of Colorado’s dismissal of the suit in 2007. More than 1,000 dogs within the city limits have been euthanized as a result of the ordinance, which went into effect in 2005.


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N   Dudley, Georgia

4/21/2013 3:05:24 PM

I wish breed specific legislation would be banned. None of my dogs(I have 9) have ever bitten anyone, but it could happen. After all, they all have teeth. I have no friends so they aren't used to anyone outside of me and the three other members of my family. They are fine when we go to the vets office and things like that, but they do not like strangers on their turf. No problem, we have no visitors. Bully breeds are no more likely than any other to bite. They just get more publicity when it happens. My youngest dog is a pitbull mix and she is a lovebug, even with the other dogs. She is bigger than most of the other dogs but never bows up even when challenged. People need to get over this. It's like the Salem witch hunts.

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Julie W   Dallas, TX

7/30/2011 10:28:49 PM

I hope you guys win the appeal. A lot has to do with owners, but the truth is, any dog can become aggressive. Pits are the dog of the decade (remember when Doberman took heat in the 70s and 80s?). Michael Vick's dogs didn't bite or kill him, though no one would blame them if they had. My experience with Pits has been that they are one of the most affectionate breeds around. They are oversize lap dogs who yearn for their owner's love and attention.

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Eva   Waleetka, AL

6/5/2009 2:07:09 PM

Ever notice that pit bull attacks happen in high crime areas? Most pit owners are middle-class, yet somehow their dogs don't get into trouble. It's not a PC thing to say, but it certainly supports the idea that there are no bad dogs, just really bad (and dangerous) owners.

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Karen   Santa Fe, NM

6/3/2009 7:51:42 PM

My pit bull Annie is the best dog EVER! Great with other dogs, great with children, she's a lover and snuggler. Read Pulitzer Prize winner Malcolm Gladwell's article on The New Yorker web site. He debunks all the arguments about pit bulls being viscious. In fact, they aren't even in the top 10 for dog aggression. I don't see Denver banning Dalmations or Cocker Spaniels, do you? They're both in the top 10. Punish irresponsible owners who don't properly socialize and care for their dogs, not the breed!!!

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