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If at first you don’t succeed: Denver ballot measure 2J

By Marianne Walthier

Ali Mickelson, the Dumb Friends League’s Public Affairs Advisor and active supporter of Denver Ballot Measure 2J, provided me with the following background information regarding the successful repeal of breed-specific legislation in Denver. In March, Mayor Hancock vetoed the repeal of Denver’s pit bull ban that had been passed by the Denver City Council. As a result, in August City Council referred it to the November ballot.

The measure had numerous supporters, including the League, the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, Governor Polis and First Gentleman Reis, Denver School board member and activist Tay Anderson and Colorado Voters for Animals. The biggest barrier was not opposition but rather an awareness and turnout of Denver voters. The group “Replace Denver BSL” took on the task of raising funds, as well as voter awareness. (BSL is the acronym for Breed Specific Legislation.) Approximately 60 volunteers delivered more than 12,000 door hangers across Denver, handed out yard and window signs from local parks, messaged voters through social media and sent more than 180,000 texts! Replace Denver BSL targeted younger voters because they tended to support the repeal of the ban. Ballot measure 2J was funded through donations from the League, Coloradans Protecting Animal Welfare and Replace Denver BSL but, compared to other issues, was a remarkably low budget campaign.

Success was accomplished. Ballot measure 2J passed overwhelmingly with 66 percent of the vote. It is now the job of Denver Animal Protection (DAP) to design the permitting process and implement the program. To that end, they published a Pit Bull Fact Sheet on November 10.  Denver residents who wish to own pit bulls will be required to obtain a Breed-Restricted Permit from DAP on or after January 1, 2021, when the ordinance is officially amended. Such residents will be responsible for scheduling an appointment for a breed-restricted assessment and pay a non-refundable assessment fee of $25 per dog (they are allowed up to two pit bulls). Denver Animal Protection officers will conduct assessments at the Denver Animal Shelter.

Once it is determined that a dog has the majority of the physical characteristics of a pit bull (including American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier), the applicant will be required to provide the name and address of the owner or keeper where the dog will be housed; the names and addresses of two emergency contacts; a recent photo and description of the dog; proof of spay or neuter (or a special intact license obtained from DAP); proof of rabies vaccination; proof of registered microchip; city license; and payment of a $30 Breed-Restricted Permit fee in addition to the licensing fee. The permit must be renewed annually for three years. If there are no violations during those three years, Breed-Restricted Permit holders may request to be removed from Breed-Restricted requirements. For more information, consult the Denver Pit Bull Fact Sheet.

The best news of all is that now the League can adopt out pit bulls to Denver residents, resulting in increased available homes for our shelter population. What a wonderful way to usher in 2021!

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