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Denver Pit Bull Owners Sue City Over Breed Ban and Murder

Thanks to CBS4 Denver.com for this news. Pit Bull Owners Sue Over Denver's Euthanizing Dogs (AP) DENVER Three pit bull owners have filed a federal...

Joy  |  Apr 12th 2007


Pit Bull in cage.jpg

Thanks to CBS4 Denver.com for this news.

Pit Bull Owners Sue Over Denver’s Euthanizing Dogs

(AP) DENVER Three pit bull owners have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Denver’s ban on the breed that gives owners a choice of moving out of the city or giving up their pets to have them put to death.

A least 1,110 dogs have been seized and killed under the law, which went into effect during the spring of 2005, according to the lawsuit’s backers.

“The lawsuit alleges that Denver’s ordinance violates (the) plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to liberty and property and to due process of law,” the Progressive Law Center, which joined in filing the suit, said in a statement Monday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sonya Dias and Hillary Engel, who said they were forced to move out of Denver because of the pit bull ordinance, and Sheryl White, whose dog allegedly was seized under the city ban.

Denver banned pit bulls in 1989 after dogs mauled a minister and killed a boy in separate attacks. The Legislature passed a law in 2004 that prohibited breed-specific bans, but the city sued and a judge ruled in April 2005 the law was an unconstitutional violation of local control.

Since then, Aurora, Commerce City and Lone Tree have banned the breed, fearing Denver’s cast-off pit bulls might flood their cities. Other cities have beefed up vicious-dog ordinances without singling out pit bulls.

Pit bull typically describes three kinds of dogs — the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But Denver’s ban applies to any dog that looks like a pit bull. The animal’s actual behavior does not matter.

Critics of the ordinance say that a blanket ban on an entire breed is misguided and that the law should instead target irresponsible owners and all dangerous dogs.

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