Kangaroo Court Decision from Denver & Aurora, CO? ADA Doesn’t Apply to “Pit Bulls” Apparently

By Editor
In Breed-Specific Legislation
Aug 8th, 2013
1 Comment
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[Warning: This post contains photos of a graphic nature and should not be viewed by youths or those who are sensitive to graphic imagery.]

As most know by now, Denver and Aurora, Colorado had banned so-called “pit bulls” well before a lawsuit was filed alleging an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violation.  Yes, that’s right.  These cities even cold-heartedly banned “pit bulls” for the differently-abled.  Hence the lawsuit.  However, both Denver and Aurora had to make concessions to the ADA after a 2011 federal ruling. 

Even after all that, both Aurora and Denver still required “pit bull” service dogs to be treated differently than service dogs of other actual breeds by requiring “pit bulls” to adhere to additional restrictions.  Sounds like segregation doesn’t it?  Separate but equal.  Yes, well, we know Denver and Aurora separate “pit bulls” out from other “breeds,” and just like segregation, they are anything but equal. 

Because of this ongoing inexplicable discrimination, lawsuits were again filed that claimed Denver and Aurora were still violating the ADA by putting “illegal restrictions on pit bulls as service dogs.”  But last month, U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Krieger ruled “that Aurora and Denver had done enough to allow the pit bulls as service dogs” and threw out the lawsuits.  

Jay Swearingen, attorney for the plaintiffs (who intend to appeal), argued that,  

“It’s the fact that their dog is treated differently…than if it were a golden retriever,” Swearingen said. “They run into more issues than the average person with a non-pit-bull service dog.”

Mr. Swearingen mentions Golden Retrievers most likely because he knows Golden Retrievers score comparably with so-called “pit bulls” on their temperament tests (ATTS.org).  Mr. Swearingen also brings up another very astute point that the very reason the ADA exists in the first place is to give the differently-abled more equality.  Still, here Denver and Aurora are hassling them and discriminating against their dogs! 

So, it sounds like Judge Krieger isn’t saying Aurora and Denver aren’t discriminating.  It sounds like she’s saying that Denver and Aurora are discriminating against the handicapped in Denver and Aurora less than they are discriminating against the able-bodied who have to abide by an outright ban.  So that’s how the courts are defining “justice” these days, as a little less unjust?  And then they have the audacity to wonder how we can lose faith in the justice system?  Well what do you call that but ill-logic from a kangaroo court? 

Yet still, Denver’s assistant city attorney Kory Nelson has bragged online to anyone that will listen that Denver’s “pit bull” ban has supposedly been upheld as legal and Constitutional.  For example, Nelson recently boasted to the San Francisco Chronicle that,

“Since 1989, when that city instituted a pit bull ban, ‘we haven’t had one serious pit bull attack,’ said Kory Nelson, a Denver assistant city attorney. His city’s assertion that ‘pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds of dog’ has withstood legal challenges, he said.

‘We were able to prove there’s a difference between pit bulls and other breeds of dogs that make pit bulls more dangerous,’ Nelson said.”

While claiming that Denver hasn’t had “one serious pit bull attack” since the ban passed, Nelson conveniently leaves out the part about how if they kill all the dogs they erroneously call “pit bulls,” there will hardly be any dogs left, period. 

Former Lucas County, Ohio Dog Warden Tom Skeldon used to make the same claim about Toledo’s “pit bull” ban until it was revealed in a Toledo news article that 54% of the dogs Skeldon had killed were dogs he called “pit bulls.”  Yet court testimony determined that,

“[Skeldon] acknowledged that even if a dog was 50 per cent pit bull, if it did not ‘look like a pit bull,’ the owner would not be charged. On the other hand, if a dog did look like a pit bull,’ it would be classified as a pit bull and the owner would be subject to the ‘vicious dog’ laws. No definitive description of a ‘pit bull’ was presented. The warden also acknowledged that there is really no way to tell if a dog is or is not a ‘pit bull’ and the determination is made by his or a deputy’s subjective judgment.” [Emphasis mine.]

In other words, Skeldon and other ACOs were just arbitrarily killing dogs, and lots of them.  Like Kory Nelson, Skeldon also used to say that Toledo’s BSL was upheld in court, but Skeldon omitted the fact that there were public accusations of evidence tampering during the trial.

As the above court testimony shows, Skeldon was unable to discern what was and was not a “pit bull” as defined by Toledo’s own ordinance.  Likewise, Mr. Nelson conveniently leaves out several instances where Denver’s ban didn’t hold up in court for the same reason.  For example, in the 2004 case of Margolius v. The City of Denver, it was shown that Mr. Margolius’ due process rights were violated when Denver’s own Animal Control Officers could not discern what was and was not a “pit bull” as defined by their own ordinance.

Denver violated dog owners’ due process rights again when the Denver Daily News reported that in January 2011 (and in 2009) Denver’s Animal Control officers could not tell the difference between a Boxer mix and what Denver’s ordinance defined as a “pit bull.”  And yet Kory Nelson, et al, claim that Denver’s “pit bull” ban has been successful?  Really?  Well, I guess one man’s “success” is another man’s pile of innocent dead dogs. (See below.) 

Why the courts continue to uphold Denver’s obviously flawed, unconstitutional, and provably unjust breed ban is a mystery — ADA or no ADA — but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the courts ruling on Denver’s breed ban didn’t share something in common with Ohio’s kangaroo court, the findings of which resulted in a public outcry of evidence tampering.

Clearly someone in Denver wants this “pit bull” ban and wants it bad.  They want it so bad, they don’t care if it’s unconstitutional.  They don’t care how many innocent dead dogs they have to pile up.  Heck, they don’t even care how many disabled people they have to trample.   

 Dead_Denver_PBsDead_Denver_PBs_2

 [Photo source: The Huffington Post]

 

One Response to “Kangaroo Court Decision from Denver & Aurora, CO? ADA Doesn’t Apply to “Pit Bulls” Apparently”

  1. By the way, following is an excerpt from The Denver Daily News article that I cited in the above post. The DDN article is no longer available on the Internet:

    http://www.thedenverdailynews.com/article.php?aID=11758

    More innocent dogs targeted?
    Judge rules that city mislabeled another innocent dog as a pit bull
    Peter Marcus, DDN Staff Writer
    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Denver animal control officers mislabeled another dog as a pit bull, raising additional questions over the department’s credibility when handling the lives of both the dogs themselves and the families they come from.

    An administrative-law judge this month ruled that animal control officers mislabeled a 10-month-old boxer-mix puppy as a pit bull.

    Despite being identified by three independent animal control officers as being a pit bull, the administrative-law judge heard testimony from experts stating otherwise, and ruled that the animal control officers had mislabeled the dog.

    In Denver, where pit bulls are illegal, mislabeling a dog as a member of the targeted breed can mean death for the dog, or at the very least being banned from the city.

    The incident unraveled on Jan. 3 when Mufasia, the boxer-mix, escaped from his owners’ yard on South Sheridan in south Denver. Mufasia ended up at a nearby school playground where he was playing with children.

    Animal control officers were called about the loose dog, and he was impounded.

    Mufasia was not wearing tags, but his owners, Amee Blauwkamp and Robert Atencio, started calling around to local shelters. None of the shelters seemed to have him, not even the Denver Animal Shelter on Jason Street.

    But to their surprise, when a relative went down to the shelter, Mufasia was in fact there.

    In the 48 hours while Mufasia was at the shelter, he was identified as a pit bull, despite the owners pointing out that when he received his vaccinations, the dog was never identified as a pit bull. Both Blauwkamp and Atencio say they wouldn’t have adopted the dog had it been a pit bull, well aware that the breed is banned in Denver.

    But animal control officials maintained that Mufasia was a pit bull. The owners had two choices: let animal control officers kill the dog, or release him to a friend outside the city. They chose the latter.

    Blauwkamp says she asked animal control officers what her options were, but was never told that there was an appeals process. She found that out after contacting the Wheat Ridge-based Animal Law Center, who ended up representing Blauwkamp and Atencio during the appeals process.

    During the Feb. 2 hearing, testimony was presented by two experts, an American Kennel Club judge and a United Kennel Club judge, who both agreed that Mufasia was not a pit bull. The judge agreed that there was not conclusive evidence suggesting that the dog was a pit bull.

    Blauwkamp and Atencio learned on Friday of the ruling, and Mufasia is now back home in Denver.

    The incident mirrors a situation in 2009 when Denver animal control officers misidentified another boxer-mix, Dexter, as a pit bull, according to the ruling in that case.

    Such misidentifications raise concerns over whether innocent dogs are being killed or banned in Denver…

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