True to her word, Aurora, Colorado Councilwoman Renie Peterson has submitted to the Safety Committee an ordinance that would repeal Aurora’s 2006 “pit bull” ban. It is hoped that the proposal will come before the full city council shortly.
Peterson’s ordinance proposal comes earlier than expected since, when last I wrote about Aurora, Peterson was looking at Spring 2014 to repeal the ban. But Peterson’s proposal can’t come too soon for the community, many members of which have been very vocal about wanting Aurora’s breed-specific legislation (BSL) repealed.
While there is a claim that Aurora’s BSL has seen incidents involving restricted breeds “virtually disappear,” what those making that claim fail to understand is that breed bans and breed-specific restrictions often drive bad owners underground where they don’t license, and worse, don’t vaccinate their dogs. But these animal abusers are still a threat to the community and they are still abusing animals.
As such, the threat of irresponsible dog ownership hasn’t been eliminated in Aurora; it’s simply gone underground. Councilwoman Peterson seems to understand that that’s exactly what has gone on in Aurora, which is why she told the Denver Post that “repealing the ban would also bring underground pit bull owners to have their dogs licensed and vaccinated” adding,
“The focus should be on responsible ownership and reckless owners” . . .
Yes, it should be.
And sometimes what causes a higher number of dog incidents in one community relative to other nearby communities is that Animal Control is often an afterthought in some communities. Many dog attacks (that’s dog attacks, not just so-called “pit bull” attacks) occur because Animal Control had been called many times prior and they either ignored the threat, or were bound by a restrictive law that wouldn’t let them intervene. That is, until a problem dog owner allows his dog to do something conspicuous enough that Animal Control can’t ignore it.
But where was the Animal Control enforcement before someone was hurt, or God forbid, killed? For instance, San Francisco Police just this week shot and killed one of two what they are calling “pit bulls” (though “pit bull” is not a breed) in Golden Gate Park. Yet these same two dogs had been in Animal Control custody just last month. Why were they let go to hurt innocent citizens? Is that a breed issue? No, it’s an Animal Control issue.
Even the head of San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control acknowledged her department was suffering from “limited staffing and funding” and the Director of San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department said the attacks “highlight the dangers of unleashed dogs and illegal camping in the parks.” So yes, simpler minds will always just point to “pit bulls,” whatever those are, as the problem. A thinking person will look for the real issues behind dog attacks, which often start with the owner and a lack of resources for Animal Controls.
But then, the community of Aurora already seems to know these things and they appear to have done a very good job, as has Councilwoman Peterson, of educating the rest of the Council. Hopefully this time Aurora abolishes its breed ban in favor of more effective legislation that protects the people and the animals of Aurora.