[nagdu] Denver council delays decision on exemption to pit-bull ban
gingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 14 13:37:14 UTC 2010
Denver council delays decision on exemption to pit-bull ban
By Christopher N. Osher
The Denver Post
Posted: 09/14/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
The Denver City Council on Monday delayed a vote on whether to
create an exemption to the city's pit-bull-terrier ban that would
allow the disabled to use the dogs as service animals.
Council members sent the issue back to committee for further
discussion, saying they feared the exemption would weaken the
city's ban and make it virtually impossible to enforce.
The council voted 10-0 on the motion from Councilwoman Jeanne
Faatz to send the proposed exemption back to committee. Council
members Jeanne Robb and Michael Hancock and Council President
Chris Nevitt were absent.
The issue is scheduled to come back before the full council Oct.
25 for a vote.
Council members, in later interviews, expressed reluctance at
adopting the exemption despite a U.S. Justice Department advisory
issued in July.
That advisory said disabled individuals have the right to pick
any breed of dog to serve as a service animal under the Americans
With Disabilities Act.
"The department does not believe that it is either appropriate or
consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit
certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds
may have a history of unprovoked attacks," according to the
The advisory added that municipalities could not require
documentation that would show dogs used by the disabled had been
certified, trained or licensed as a service animal.
Faatz said she feared that those guidelines could blow a huge
hole in the city's pit-bull ban, adopted in 1989 after the Rev.
Wilbur Billingsley was attacked by a pit bull that bit him 70
times and left him with two broken legs.
"I'm afraid it would leave a large enough loophole that every pit
bull born in the city will be able to squeeze right through it,"
She said that while she wants to show strong deference to the
ADA, she also wants to ensure any exemption is done in such a way
that the city's pit-bull ban remains viable.
The council delay comes at a time when the city is defending
itself from a federal lawsuit brought by three owners of pit
bulls certified as service animals.
The ban has long been deplored by animal-rights activists, but
others say the ban is necessary because pit bulls have a
propensity for violence and are popular among gang members.
Councilwoman Carla Madison, who has never been fond of the breed
ban, said in an interview that she may try to persuade her
colleagues to allow further exemptions for other pit bulls not
classified as service animals.
For instance, Madison would like to exempt from the ban pit bulls
that have been temperament tested or have gone through obedience
She added that she also wants an aggressive-dog ordinance that
would give city officials the right to intervene when any dog is
showing aggressive tendencies. In such instance, city officials
could require a muzzle or perhaps additional fencing for a yard.
Christopher N. Osher: 303-954-1747 or cosher at denverpost.com
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