Pit bull service-dog rules go into effect as Aurora looks to adjust its "bully breeds" ban

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New federal guidelines tightening the traditionally loosey-goosey definition "service animals" go into effect today. From now on only dogs (and, um, in some cases, miniature horses) that have been "individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability" will fit the Americans with Disabilities Act's legal description of a service animal.

But while this shrinks the ranks of what can be considered a service animal -- no more lizards, cats, parrots, monkeys, pot-bellied pigs -- it also explicitly extends that definition to include alldogs regardless of breed. This puts the pit bull bans in Aurora and Denver square in the cross-hairs for potential future litigation -- on top of the class-action lawsuit both cities are facing from disabled residents who use pit bulls as service animals.

The ruling by the Department of Justice last year doesn't specifically mention pit bulls. Rather, it found that local governments cannot use ordinances banning certain dog breeds as a justification to prevent a disabled person from utilizing any service dog of their choosing. A memo from the department says that decisions as to whether a dog should be permitted under the umbrella of "service animal" should be "based on that particular animal's actual behavior or history -- not based on fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave."

City attorneys in Denver and Aurora have been scrambling to convince elected leaders to enact ordinances that would carve out narrow exemptions to their breed bans. The Denver City Council shot down a proposed exemption last year. Aurora -- whose ban also includes eight other "bully breeds" such as American Bulldog and Cane Corso -- is considering establishing a "Restricted Breed" license for ban breeds that qualify as service animals. The measure will be discussed in the Neighborhood Services Policy Committee on Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, the Denver City Council's Health, Safety, Education & Services Committee is scheduled to meet in executive session this afternoon to get an update from city attorneys about the on-going "pit bull litigation."

More from our News archive: "Pit bull ban: Disabled Vietnam, Gulf War vets sue Denver and Aurora for discriminating against their service dogs."

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Anyway one chooses to cut it... this will be a very interesting legal push and pull. Denver claims that the ADA/ Service dog issue is a "local matter" and falls under their home rule aurhority. But is it? Is a federal law providing civil rights for disabled persons any less valid in Denver than say, Seattle WA or Los Angeles, CA? Uncle Sam is not telling Denver city officials to repeal their breed specific ban. The feds are just saying they cant discriminate against a disabled person and/ or the breed of dog they choose to keep as a service dog.Will this action shoot a million holes in the original pit bull ban and its enforcement? Most likely... AND cost Denver residents/ tax payers multi millions in litigation: A federal lawsuit, the Veteran's Class Action Lawsuit, and the log awaited but not forgotten "Dias vs. The City and County of Denver".

For the pit bull haters and skeptics everywhere... What are you going to do when Denver city officials (or any city officials anywhere) step on YOUR constitutional rights?

VIVA PIT BULLS and the responsible owners who keep and love them!!!

The Denver Dog Killing Machine/ Facebook.com


The city of Denver has banned pit bulls because they are seen as a bully breed and have a spicier disposition than most. However, Denver does not bad people who have been accused and imprisoned for violent crimes. What is the logic in this? That would be like Denver saying violent Hispanic offenders are not allowed to live in the city of Denver. It doesn't make sense. Pit bulls if raised correctly can be loving family dogs that want nothing more than a nice head scratch and some time on the back porch in the sun. Any breed can become aggressive if tortured and raised without love. It is time someone does something about this injustice. If not, maybe I should start protesting that all violent offenders be taken from their homes in Denver and euthanized. Remove your heads from your asses.


Great explaining. Thank you


It`s getting pretty obvious here that certain Council members need to be voted out of office at the first opportunity.They continue to waste money trying to find a loophole around this Federal Ruling.


Breed Bans don`t reduce dog bites.What does it take to get through to some of you people?Denver has the highest rate of dog related hospitalizations in the State of Colorado.How`s that Breed Ban working for you Denver?


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