Another Denver dog gets a reprieve after being wrongly designated as a pit bull

Mufasia_ALC_thumb.jpg
The debate over Denver's pit bull ban is typically characterized as a never-ending argument over whether the breed is inherently dangerous or unfairly maligned between stubborn, closed-minded politicians (who argue the former) and fanatical pit bull advocates (the latter). But the real issue is whether Denver should continue with an enforcement policy that is inherently unenforceable.

Consider the case of Mufasia:

MufasiaBernice.jpg
Mufasia and girlfriend Bernice.
After escaping from its owner's home in southwest Denver, the ten-month-old boxer-mix was impounded by Denver Animal Control. Several lawsuits over the pit bull ban have forced Denver to establish a Byzantine process for determining whether a dog fits the physical criteria for being a pit bull, including a checklist review by three separate employees.

Despite protests by owner Amee Blauwkamp that her dog was a boxer-mix, Mufasia was determined to be a pit bull, which meant the dog faced possible euthanization unless a new home could be found outside of city limits. But instead, Blauwkamp challenged the designation with the help of the Wheat Ridge-based Animal Law Center. And after hearing testimony February 3 from outside dog-breed experts, a Denver hearing officer determined that Mufasia was, in fact, not a pit bull.

This isn't the first time that Denver's animal control officials have screwed the pooch in making supposedly fail-proof breed-ban assessments. In 2009, Westword wrote about a similar case involving Dexter, a four-year-old mutt that was confiscated from the back yard of a Denver residence and deemed to be a pit bull until a hearing officer tossed out the determination.

Both instances show how difficult -- and, in some cases, impossible -- it is for animal control staff to make these types of judgment calls when a dog is mixed with so-called bully breeds such as boxers, bulldogs and Bull Mastiffs, all of which are perfectly legal to own in Denver.

Want to dig into more stories about Denver's pit bull ban? Check out "Public Enemy #1," "3,497 dead dogs," and "Pit bull service dogs."

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12 comments
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Anne Thomas
Anne Thomas

Mufasia's friend Bernice 1ooks more 1ike a pit bu11 than Mufasia does, maybe a pit bu11-beag1e cross? These breed bans are so stupid.

Holly
Holly

Fanatical pit bull supporters? EXCUSE ME! whom ever wrote this article, you are an ass clown! Just because I support pit bulls in no way means I am a fanatic! Do not lump me in with the nut jobs OK! your writing style and choice of words leaves a lot to be desired!

Dark
Dark

There can be DNA tests done . It sais what breeds are mixed into the dog's DNA ... but I guess it is too expensive to do this and save a life , it's cheaper to just euthanaise. It makes me so sad ...

Coleen
Coleen

DNA tests determine a dog's parentage, not its breed. Just like with humans, a DNA sample is useless unless you have something to compare it to.

Guest
Guest

Dear Denver, it is time you admitted your were wrong to ban an entire class of dogs. The rest of the world is moving on while you are still stuck in the dark ages.

Marley Diehl
Marley Diehl

Hasn't anyone heard of the DNA breed test?! You draw a vile of blood and it's tested for almost 200 breeds. Since pit bull is not an official AKC breed it won't show up exactly but it will show up as a terrier. If you knew the exact mix of the dog and you knew there was no pit, why not do the DNA test?! I don't get it.

Pibble
Pibble

Why don`t they just admit that BSL is useless,ineffective and costly.Denver is being ridiculous.What does it matter what the Breed is if the dog is not a problem?So what if the dog got loose once.It happens.Return it to the owner and if it happens again,hit the OWNER with a significant fine so they start being more responsible.Denver wake up and smell the coffee.Breed Bans don`t work.Denver has proved that conclusively.http://nationalcanineresearchc...

Superfluous_h
Superfluous_h

AKC recognizes American Staffordshire Terrier an Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the UKC recognizes those and the American Pit Bull Terrier. DNA tests are still extremely unreliable, many examples of papered dogs with known backgrounds have come back with a completely random assortment of breeds assigned to them.

Savecritters
Savecritters

When I tell people about breed bans they are honestly shocked. Denver it is time to rethink your ban, it's cost to your tax payers and their hearts, and dogs lost or changed lives simply because of looks/breed. Each dog of every breed just like each person should be judged on their individual character not lumped into a witches brew of ignorance.

Mr. Mezzrow
Mr. Mezzrow

Thank you,Westword, for pointing out the cruelty and idiocy of this program. The city council members who voted in and support this program are opportunistic demagogues with the morals of a methed-up weasel in heat. Yes, Charlie Brown, this means you: you're a human turd in a string-tie and most Denver dog owners wouldn't piss down your throat if your heart was on fire.

Stephanie
Stephanie

The whole concept of a breed ban is ridiculous. The bad dog problem is not at all solved and Denver has not seen a reduction in reported dog bites.

Rather than killing innocent dogs, Denver, you should be spending your tax money on improving educational programs for pet owners to help PREVENT bites and attacks of any breed.

Guest
Guest

I really appreciate Westword's willingness to criticize Denver's public policy / public safety disaster (aka the pit bull ban). This is REAL journalism--the ability and desire to investigate and document wrongdoings perpetuated by government, and to question authority--quite unlike the other media sources in the area, whose journalists seem content to let their "news" stories be written by lawmakers and big business.

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