Denver is in the wake of a significant challenge to their 20 year old breed ban. The city faces a legal challenge from three different plaintiffs that the city's law does not comply with the American's with Disabilities Act guidelines for service dogs -- and a recent statement by the Department of Justice says loud and clear that Denver is in violation.
According to Attorney Jennifer Edwards:
"It's pretty offensive that this has been on the books this way for this long in complete violation of the ADA, in complete violation of our Constitutionally protected rights and it took a lawsuit from the Animal Law Center to Open their eyes."
But Denver many of the city council members still don't get it -- and it's painful listening to how dense they are in their quotes in this article.
Councilwoman Carol Boigon, who has a disability, shares her thoughts:
"I'm thinking of all the drug houses that I have worked on over the last seven years, and a couple of them have people who have become paraplegics in bad drug deals, but were still dealing out of their house, and they had tough dogs. Was that a servcie dog? Well, I don't know, but those certainly were handicapped people. I think we're going to be in a world of hurt down the road on this."
For more reasons than one.
Here's a hint, if you have people dealing drugs out of their home, and if they are getting injured (shot?) in deals gone wrong because of drug deals gone wrong, whether or not the dog is a service dog is the least of the city's concerns. How about maybe stopping the drug activity? And yes, if your concern in that situation is the dog, your city is definitely gong to be in a world of hurt down the road.
Carla Madison at least seems to get it:
"Maybe we need to re-look at our pit bull ban and see if there's a way we can close that gap....maybe put in a dangerous dog act, just look at it differently."
Which is how the majority of cities do it. Which is how cities that have had success in dealing with dangerous dog issues have dealt with it. The ADA does allow for dogs to be targeted based on behavior -- and if the dog is well-behaved, why does it matter what it looks like?
The status quo is hard to change. Denver has created an aura of fear around 'pit bulls' to the point where they think that the problem with drug houses are the types of dogs they own.
Fear mongering still lives. But thanks to the citizens of Denver who continue to fight, change will, I believe, eventually happen.