Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Denver Roundup :(


There is no grandfather clause in the Denver ban which means EVERY SINGLE pit bull in the city limits MUST BE surrendered or confiscated.
There are two very different estimates on how many pit bulls are actually within the city limits. The city sent letters to 200 registered pit bull owners advising them of the May 9 deadline to get their dogs out. However, another report estimates that there are at least 4,000 or so unregistered pit bulls there. It would be absolutely impossible to move them all to safety.

PLEASE sign this petition to STOP the destruction of the Pit Bull breed in Denver, CO.
Sign the petition to STOP this Insanity!!!!

Pit bull roundup begins in Denver

William Hollowell carries his dog, Bandit,
to an animal control van Monday as Denver began enforcing the pit bull ban.


Good Pooch News Update


Stop BSL (Breed Specific Law)



Rocky Mountain News Article

Johnson: Pit-bull ban may reveal unwarranted prejudice
May 11, 2005 A veterinarian's response to the Denver witch hunt

It has to be one of the dumbest laws, ever. And I don't even own or like pit bulls. It's nothing personal, only that I'd never keep any animal that eats as much or more than I do.

Still, I can weep for the pit bulls of Denver, particularly for the puppies that never did anything other than get born into the breed.

Yet here we have the city of Denver, newly sprung from legislative and judicial restraint, rounding up pits over the past couple of days and killing them like rats during The Plague.

A uniformed officer arrives at a home. "I'll get him," she announces to her partner. Rather than fight it all, a distraught man emerges, weighs going to jail and a fine, and in the end hands over his dog.

"I'm definitely sad," he later tells a reporter. "He's like a member of my family."

Later in the day, a woman pleads: "I don't have no dogs!

"There ain't no dogs in the basement!" she yells as the uniformed man and woman, responding to an informant's report of a pit bull, interrogate her. Outside, squad cars filled with police officers wait to see if they are needed.

"I'm just doing my job," the woman officer later laments.

It has been eight years since I last had a dog, God rest him. And the one thing I truly know is I would have never given him over to the dogcatcher to be killed simply because he was a beagle.

I would hardly care if a judge in the city where I lived said it was the rule and the law. Yet this has been happening since Monday in Denver, when a state law prohibiting bans of "breed-specific" dogs was overturned and the city's moratorium on pit bull confiscation and killing was lifted.

And no one much is saying a thing.

It is why we need to speak with William Suro. He is a veterinarian of 45 years, who in 1988 started the MaxFund, a nonprofit that provides medical care for injured animals with no known owners, which seeks new homes for them.

It is a shelter that has never killed a single dog.

Bill Suro, 69, for years has wrangled with Denver in the courts of legal and public opinion over the ban, passed in the wake of the pit bull killing of a young child.

"Unfair. Stupid," Bill Suro says of this week's roundup. "It remains an emotional response to a terrible thing that happened, but one that doesn't really help those hurt or killed by vicious dogs."

Bill Suro is a blunt-spoken and uncompromising defender of animals, and a man who believes in harsh punishment for those who abuse and kill them.

He has in recent hours counseled numerous terrier owners, given the shock of their lives simply because their pets resemble pits and were threatened with euthanasia. Denver animal control authorities acknowledge receiving and being sent on numerous "could be a pit bull" calls.

"It makes me and every animal lover and organization across this country just sick," he said. "It's crazy."

He and his wife, Nanci, over the past few months have emptied MaxFund of every pit bull they once housed, shipping them to like-minded shelters outside of Denver.

He puts the number at close to 20 pit bulls. Some owners, too, have come to MaxFund, only to be turned away. He and Nanci, he said, have done all they could.

"We would absolutely love to be the Underground Railroad for pit bulls, but we know the city would close us down."

Yes, I tell him, but aren't pit bulls actually the human flesh-ripping monsters they are portrayed to be?

Bill Suro snickers at my naivete.

"I've been a veterinarian for 45 years, and I've never once been attacked or bitten by a pit bull. There are other breeds where I have gone into an examination room and really been on my guard. I will not tell you which, but they scare me."

Cities like Denver, he says, whip up pit bull hysteria. And that is all it is, he said. People now all believe every pit bull "is a coiled and snarling attacker. It's nonsense."

Cities, he said, would be much better served if they took a simple look at canine attacks from recent years.

"Eighty percent all fatal attacks in the U.S. are caused by male dogs. I guess, given this, it would be prudent to now ban all breeds of male dogs."

Denver, he said, does not at the same time send dogcatchers to cite owners of non-neutered dogs,

"It should know there have been fatal attacks in the U.S. by Pomeranians, that half a dozen attacks that caused death or serious injuries were by cocker spaniels."

And then he raises an issue I had not contemplated, and which I do not lend much credence to. But I will give him his say because it matches what has happened the last two days in the city:

"There appears a racial end of this," Bill Suro says.

"Look at the dogs that have been impounded, and the surnames of their owners. . . . They aren't killing dogs from Cherry Creek. They pick on the easiest people to pick on, the ones who give up easiest," he said, adding that he has forwarded this claim to the American Civil Liberties Union.

What happens, I ask, when all of the Denver pit bulls have been rounded up and put down?

He would not want to be a Malamute, he said.

A male Malamute attacked and killed a 7-year-old girl in Fruita last Saturday night.

"It is not the breed," an unsmiling Bill Suro said.

Bill Johnson's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.


Pit bulls leave Denver

Boulder County shelters take in four adoptable dogs

By Ilene Rosenblum, Camera Staff Writer
May 11, 2005

More dogs need homes in Boulder County now that the Denver Animal Control reinstated enforcement of a countywide ban on pit bulls Monday.

Eight of the dogs arrived at Boulder County shelters in the past week, officials said.

Four pit bulls deemed fit for adoption arrived at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley since last week and are awaiting homes, said Jan McHugh-Smith. They're probably only a portion of those to come, the society's chief executive officer said.
"People are going to probably relinquish them to us because their options are minimal," McHugh-Smith said.

The shelter receives about 7,800 animals a year, and last year, 400 were pit bulls, McHugh-Smith said.

It can be more challenging to find homes for these dogs because of their reputation for violence, McHugh-Smith said. But these pit bulls, just like all animals released from the shelter, are safe because they are evaluated first, she said.

At an average cost of $250 for each animal's stay, the influx of pit bulls could be financially burdensome, McHugh-Smith said.

"If you take four or five extra a week it adds up," she said.

Denver isn't the only local city with a pit bull ban. The dogs are also outlawed in Louisville, McHugh-Smith said.

The Longmont Humane Society said they weren't too worried. Area shelters should be able to divvy up the additional animals, said Michael Helmstetter, the Humane Society's development director.

"Just a few animals wouldn't compromise our level of care," he said.

Of the four that arrived in Longmont last week, only one was determined fit for adoption and is waiting for a home, said Dee Fowler, the Humane Society's director of operations.

Denver Animal Control only has 250 pit bulls listed in its database, but there are likely many more, said Doug Kelley, director of the Denver Animal Control and Denver Animal Shelter.

"We have no idea how many there are," he said.

Between Monday and Tuesday, Denver Animal Control collected 12 pit bulls, Kelley said.

Kelley said that during the moratorium on enforcement, Animal Control saw a lot more pit bulls even though they were not legal.

"We made it very clear that pit bulls were not legal in Denver," Kelley said, "We just weren't enforcing the law."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Ilene Rosenblum at (303) 473-1328 or (


Rocky Mountain News Article

Pit bull roundup begins in Denver

William Hollowell carries his dog, Bandit,
to an animal control van Monday as Denver began enforcing the pit bull ban.

On first day of effort, city's animal control officers seize 12 dogs
By David Montero, Rocky Mountain News
May 10, 2005

Officer Lorraine Pacheco didn't know what to expect Monday - the first day of Denver Animal Control's enforcement of the city's ban on owning pit bulls.

"At first, I was like, do I even want to come into work today," Pacheco said from behind the wheel of her city-issued white van.

"People not wanting to give up their dogs, saying 'I love my dog, why are you taking him?' It's not a witch-hunt."

It is the law, though.

The Denver District Court ruled this year that an ordinance passed in April 2004 was legal, and about 200 owners of pit bulls were notified by mail that they would have to turn over their dogs beginning Monday.

Doug Kelly, director of the Denver animal shelter, said that, as of early Monday evening, 12 pit bulls were in custody after owners either relinquished them or they were picked up by officers such as Pacheco."We really didn't know what to expect," he said. "We were prepared for a higher caller volume."

Of those dozen dogs, he said six will likely be euthanized after 24 hours. The others, which the city picked up, will be traced back to their owners, he said. If the owners had previous pit bull violations, the dogs won't be returned and will be euthanized. If the dogs had no prior violations, the owners will have the opportunity to relocate them outside the county of Denver.

William Hollowell had received a notice and gave up his dog voluntarily when animal control officers arrived Monday afternoon.

Three animal control vans parked outside his brick house while his dog, Bandit, jumped and barked inside a small fenced area of the backyard."I'll get him," Hollowell said quietly as animal control officials closed in with wrangling equipment.

The 50-year-old with long dreadlocks opened the fence's door a crack and slipped behind the chain-link door separating the officers from the snarling dog. He calmly put a chain leash on Bandit and started to walk him out. Bandit struggled at first, lunging in different directions before his owner picked him up and brought him to the back of the van. In the background, two American bulldogs barked loudly.

"I'm definitely sad," Hollowell said. "He's like a member of my family. There's going to be a lot of sad people."

Pacheco said because Hollowell voluntarily gave up the dog, he wouldn't be ticketed. The fine for violating the city ordinance is up to $999 and/or a year in jail.

As they were finishing loading up the dog, and Officer Frank Jimenez was explaining to Hollowell his options, Pacheco got another call about a pit bull running loose in a Montbello neighborhood.

When she and Jimenez arrived about a half-hour later, the home in question had no evidence of a dog. The woman who answered the door when Pacheco knocked wasn't too happy to see them, either.

Between a flurry of obscenities, the woman said she gave up the pit bull days ago. A little girl inside the doorway to the house mentioned it might be in the basement. Officers asked her if they could look there.

"I don't have no dogs," the woman yelled. "There ain't no dogs in the basement. You want to search the house, get a warrant. And then I'll sue you."

Keri Lafave, a neighbor, said the black pit bull had been running loose in the neighborhood earlier in the day. However, she said the dog wasn't mean.

Both Jimenez and Pacheco called Denver police officers for backup and, while they waited for the squad cars to arrive, they stood watch by the backyard in case the woman tried to flee with a pit bull. When the officers arrived, the woman refused entrance to her house and Pacheco said a warrant would have to be issued.

"I've been called everything in the book," she said as she got in the van and drove away. "I just try and tell them I'm just doing my job." ( or 303-892-5236


Denver pit-bull owners in a pinch

By April M. Washington, Rocky Mountain News
May 7, 2005

A nameless Denver resident left a pit bull terrier, housed in a crate, on the doorstep of the Longmont Humane Society in the middle of the night this week.

The shelter has taken in three other pit bulls from Denver owners who are desperate to find a sanctuary for their pets as the city prepares to resume its ban outlawing the breed on Monday.

"As far as we're concerned, it's a really difficult problem for us and across the board," said De Sowler, director of operations for the Longmont shelter.

"Any animal that comes to our door, we'll take. We do not guarantee placement. We're hoping they'll use us as a last resort."

Denver's Animal Control Department has sent letters of warning to about 250 residents who own pit bulls or a mixed breed of the dog, reminding them of the Sunday deadline.

The Colorado Attorney General's office decided last week not to appeal a district court judge's ruling that upheld the city's right to ban pit bulls.

The city sued to protect its ban after state lawmakers adopted a law last year that prohibited cities and counties from outlawing a specific breed of dog. In upholding Denver's ban last month, Judge Martin Egelhoff said that the state failed to disprove the violent nature of pit bull attacks.

Doug Kelley, director of animal control for Denver, said the city will begin impounding pit bulls spotted during routine neighborhood sweeps, and will visit the homes of those who received letters in coming weeks.

Denver resident Elena Garcia, 41, said she's been hard-pressed to find a new home for her two pit bull terriers, Zeus and Thunder.

"We're trying to find a good home where I know they'll take care of them and feed them well," she said. "If worse comes to worse, I'd rather them put them a sleep myself than have someone else do it," Garcia said, as she choked back tears.

Animal shelters from Colorado Springs to Tabletop Mountain Animal Center in Jefferson County say they have room to take in pit bulls, but are bound by various restrictions.

Humane Society of The Pikes Peak Region may only come to the rescue of pit bulls outside Colorado Springs that are no older than 4-months.

In all cases, pit bulls taken in by the shelter are evaluated for behavioral issues to ensure they are safe to adopt, said Ann Hagerty, spokeswoman for the society.

"It's a sad situation," she said. "It's so hard for the pet owners. People aren't looking to adopt pit bulls."

Pit Bulls Banned Again In Denver

City Ordinance Enforced Starting Monday

POSTED: 2:18 pm MDT May 9, 2005

DENVER -- It is once again illegal to keep a pit bull in Denver.
Original Article

The animals were banned by city ordinance in 1989, but a state law passed in 2004 prohibited the singling out of certain breeds of dogs.

The city of Denver sued and In December 2004, Denver District Court Judge Martin F. Egelhoff issued a ruling that the state law violated Denver’s home rule authority under the Colorado state constitution. Egelhoff ruled that the state could not impose such limitations on Denver.

Last month, 150 Denver residents were sent letters from Denver Animal Control, warning them that the city planned to resume its ban outlawing pit bulls within city limits on Monday.

City officials estimated earlier that there were about 4,500 pit bulls kept illegally in Denver before enforcement of the ban ended last April.

Denver's pit bull law prohibits any person from owning, possessing, keeping, exercising control over, maintaining, harboring, or selling a pit bull in the City and County of Denver. A pit bull is defined in the ordinance as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, an American Staffordshire Terrier, a Straffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of these breeds.

Copies of the three official breed standards are available at the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter, located at 678 South Jason St. For more information, call (303) 698-0076.

Discuss: Are Pit Bulls Getting A Bad Rap?

Copyright 2005 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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