U. S. Citizens Protesting the Seizure and Execution of Innocent Family Pets within the City of Denver, Colorado
The Governor of Colorado, The Mayor of Denver, and the Denver City Council
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On Monday, May 9, 2005, the Denver Division of Animal Control began enforcing a city-wide ban on owning pit bull terriers, and initiated an aggressive campaign of seizing beloved family pets, and killing them against their owners will. This ordinance is an indiscriminant ban that demands the eradication and disposal of ALL dogs that are classified as pit bulls or pit bull mixes, even if the dog has never done anything wrong, and consistently remains confined to the owners property. Dog owners who refuse to surrender their pets face up to a year in jail and a $999 fine.
This ordinance also bans shelters and humane societies from harboring pit bulls, and even goes so far as to forbid any US resident from transporting a pit bull through Denver without a permit. The ordinance does allow for pits to be kept if residents meet certain requirements; such as increased annual registration fees, maintaining a $100,000 liability insurance policy, and keeping the dog muzzled and leashed at all times when it is off the owners propertybut only if the resident registered the dog prior to January 1, 1990. Dogs born or transferred to Denver after that date do not qualify for the exemption.
In the first few years there were several legal battles regarding the ban. However, in November of 1991, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the ban when it declared that the Denver ordinance did not violate the state constitution.*
WE THE UNDERSIGNED:
Are deeply dismayed by the horrible canine genocide that is currently taking place in Denver, Colorado. While the city ordinance prohibiting pit bull dogs may be in line with the letter of the law, the manner in which Denver is enforcing this ban is a grievous injustice to family pets, and deeply offensive to the hearts and minds of pet owners everywhere.
We support and acknowledge the right of Denvers citizens to govern them selves, and make no attempt to infringe upon that right. The people of Denver can pass whatever ordinances they need or want, as long as they are in compliance with both the Colorado State Constitution and the US Constitution, and possess a reasonable sense of fairness and justice. However, we believe that forcing people to surrender their dogs against their will is neither fair nor just, and is an affront to our sense of common decency. In the presence of such an injustice we believe that our voices must be heard.
We are not so naпve as to believe that we live in a world where dangerous and aggressive animals will not have to be euthanized to protect the public. While there is justification to address animal aggression and safety in our communities, a broad-sweeping ban such as this one is neither humane nor effective. We firmly believe that this program of seizing and executing family pets is wrong because:
It debases the lives of beloved family dogsrendering them of no more value than vermin to be eradicated.
The United States already faces an overwhelming epidemic of unwanted pets. Seizing pets that already have homes is unwarranted, heinous, and cruel.
It is misguided. The argument that innocent dogs must be destroyed because it is thought they might harm someone lacks merit. We dont execute people for what they might do, because it is inherently unfair and unjust to do so. This same logic should apply to our family dogs.
It only victimizes and criminalizes. It fails to promote good citizenship or responsible pet ownership because it does not engage the public and the pet owners in creative and sustainable solutions when dealing with potential dog aggression. The burden of responsible pet ownership is upon the owner, not the animal.
Therefore, we respectfully ask that Denver cease and desist their policy of killing innocent pit bull dogs.
Additionally, in order to promote ethical and humane solutions that protect the lives of animals and people, we believe that some or all of the following suggestions be taken under serious advisement, and hopefully implemented by the people of Denver as quickly as possible:
Number 1: Since it has already been determined that the ban is not unconstitutional, we request that the city of Denver legally reverse the ban. If reversing the ban is not possible, we ask that you make exemptions for living pets.
Number 2: Shut down dog fighting rings. Dog fighters deliberately breed aggression into dogs, and frequently abandon unwanted dogs to the streets. Purging the city of this cruel blood sport would be an important first step.
Number 3: Create and enforce stricter leash laws. Increase the punitive fines with which citizens who fail to curb their pets can be charged, and address dog aggression and attacks on a case-by-case basis.
Number 4: Redirect the money spent on confiscating and killing innocent dogs into pro-active programs that promote humane and responsible pet ownership and training, as well as community dog bite prevention programs for children and adults.
It should not be supposed that because we oppose this ban, that we do not care equally about public safety and the effectiveness and necessity of responsible animal control. Protecting people and protecting animals can be mutually inclusive goals. By working together, we can make a positive difference in the lives of pets and people.