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UPDATE: Denver Could Still Overturn Mayor’s Veto That Re-Enforces Pit Bull Ban

| Published on February 26, 2020

Covering the story of Denver’s Pit Bull ban has been quite a rollercoaster. As I wrote just a few weeks ago, Denver’s City Council voted to pass a new code allowing Pit Bulls in the city. Just days later, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock vetoed the measure. The veto was the mayor’s first.

Mayor Hancock refers to an attack on a 3-year-old child in 1989 that prompted the initial ban. He believes Pit Bulls pose a threat to public safety. Consequently, he will not support the legislation.

“I just kept thinking that if this were to become law in our city, and harm comes to someone as a result, then we would have done a disservice to the people of Denver,” Hancock announced.

The City Council needed 9 votes to overturn Mayor Hancock’s veto, and ultimately they did not get them. The vote resulted in 8 votes for overturning, 5 votes against. One of the five dissenting council members, Debbie Ortega, explained her voting logic.

“The reason I will not be voting for this override tonight, there was no public outreach. It requires much, much broader input from the community on trying to find any kind of solution that deals with our current ordinance before, I think, we expand it.”

Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon, who sponsored them, still hopes to refer the new Pit Bull-friendly measures to voters. He believes the community will support them.

“Would it have been great to get to the place where we overrode the mayoral veto? Absolutely, but, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that these dogs are allowed to be in our parks, go to our vets like any other dog. If it takes… potentially moving it to 2021, I’m still okay with that.”

There still remains a possibility that Denver citizens can ultimately decide if pit bulls should legally return to the city. That process of getting the ban repeal on the ballot could begin as early as next week. Either way, the deadline for that is 90 days before Election Day. Keep an eye on the headlines around then for updates!


Pit Bulls are the most discriminated against dog breed by far. They’re banned from air travel, schools, and even entire city limits. For 30 years, Denver, Colorado, was one of those unforgiving cities. As of Monday, that is no longer the case. In a 7-4 vote, the Denver City Council passed a new code allowing Pit Bulls with rules and restrictions. The new law will take effect in 90 days if approved by Mayor Michael Hancock.

Highlights of the legislation updates included:

  • Owners must register their dog with Denver Animal Protection and apply for a “breed-restricted license.”
  • Owners need to provide proof of microchipping, neutering/spaying, and vaccination.
  • A maximum of 2 Pit Bulls allowed per household.
  • Required notification within 8 hours if the dog escapes or bites.


If no code violations occur within three years, owners of registered Pit Bulls can then remove the requirement for a breed-restricted license and license their pup under the same provisions as other dogs in Denver.

12 Years After The Case Of Desiree Arnold And Coco

Obviously, this is huge news. Denver is the same city that brought us the tragic story of Desiree Arnold and her beloved Pit Bull Coco. In June 2008, animal control seized Coco from Arnold’s home for the second time. This meant that Coco would be euthanized. Arnold sued the city, but the case dragged on.

Poor Coco cried every time Arnold came to the city shelter to visit her. Arnold could no longer take watching Coco suffer and gave up her fight. The city returned Coco to her in a garbage bag.

Twelve years later, this ruling allows other loving dog parents like Arnold to live in their city without fear of having their dogs taken.

Responses Are Mixed

Many residents are thrilled about the upcoming changes. They took to Twitter and Facebook to share their excitement and cute pictures of their own Pitties.

“Thank you! I commute over an hour to do my PhD and was planning to leave Colorado afterward because of this law. I won’t have to leave now.” – @JTFouquier via Twitter

A step in the right direction. These are wonderful animals when socialized and raised in a loving environment.” – @thegaryramsey via Twitter

Others find the new rules to be still too restrictive.

The ban should undoubtedly be lifted. But the way it is happening needs improvement. All dogs should be allowed without special registration or permissions. If there’s a problem there are laws in place that need to be enforced with a pit bull or golden.” Heather Dawn via Facebook

Then, of course, there are still many of those in the anti-Pittie camp who fear for their community’s safety.

“I’m not a fan I respect people who love their dogs but purebreds and mutts with this mix is not a good thing I have seen friends who have had family pets and kids the dog attacked them out of the blue raised as puppy’s multiple stories multiple circumstances! This breed is just so iffy it’s not safe.” Jodi Beth Sanders-Kubitschek via Facebook

In reality, most “facts” about Pit Bull’s propensity for violence are exaggerated or even fabricated. While often bred for their strength, Pit Bulls also make excellent service and therapy dogs.

For now, several surrounding cities and counties still ban Pit Bulls, so Denver may see an influx of beloved family Pitties.

Featured Image: @joestoltz via Pixabay

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