Voters Repealed Denver’s Decades-Old Ban On Owning Pit Bulls

Voters in Denver recently overturned a 30-year ban on pit bulls in the city. While the election results won’t be certified until later this month, 65% of the city’s voters were in favor of measure 2J, which allows pit bulls to live legally in the city, as long as their owners adhere to a set of requirements.

Up until now, Colorado’s capital city has been the largest city in America to have a breed-specific ban. Earlier this year, Denver’s city council voted 7-4 in favor of repealing the ban, but Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed the attempt.

The proposal then went before Denver voters, with proponents pointing to a report from the American Veterinary Medical Association, which states that while owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with stigma, 44 controlled studies have not identified the breed group as disproportionately dangerous.

The ban is set to be repealed on Jan. 1, 2021, and replaced with a set of restrictions, including a special permit and a limit on two pit bulls per household.


Pit bull owners in the city will be asked to bring their pit bulls to the Denver Animal Shelter for a $25 assessment that should take about 30 to 45 minutes, according to The Denver Post. If the dog doesn’t share a majority of characteristics common in pit bulls, it will not need a breed-specific permit. If it does, the permit will require a name and address of the dog’s owner, emergency contacts, a description and recent photograph of the dog, and proof that the dog has been spayed or neutered, microchipped and vaccinated.

The permit will cost $30 annually and if there are no incidents in three years, the breed-specific permit will no longer be needed.

Denver’s pit bull pan was enacted in 1989 after 20 people had been attacked by pit bulls in the previous five years. One victim was a 3-year-old who was fatally attacked in 1986. Since the ban has been in place, it’s cost the city nearly $6 million to enforce, according to a study from the University of Denver.

Proponents of 2J made a case that a dog’s breed isn’t an indicator of whether it will bite, but rather, owners need to know how to responsibly train and handle their dogs.

Denver was among some 700 U.S. cities with breed-specific legislation. Many cities have been reversing course over the past couple of years, with Sioux City, Iowa, and Castle Rock, Colorado, overturning pit bull bans in recent years.