Council aims to remove dog breed restrictions

Ordinance to end ban on pit bulls heads toward second reading

Maddie Browning
Posted 6/8/21

Lone Tree City Attorney Linda Michow presented an ordinance June 2 to remove the city’s dog breed restrictions, and the proposed change got unanimous council approval on first reading. Michow …

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Council aims to remove dog breed restrictions

Ordinance to end ban on pit bulls heads toward second reading

Posted

Lone Tree City Attorney Linda Michow presented an ordinance June 2 to remove the city’s dog breed restrictions, and the proposed change got unanimous council approval on first reading.

Michow explained that the council adopted a specific dog breed ban in 2006, following many other cities. At the time, pit bull terriers were considered stronger and more violent than other dog breeds, but public safety and welfare concerns have subsided.   

“Since that time, however, many communities have decided to focus less on the breed or appearance of dogs and more on behavior,” Michow said. She explained that Lone Tree already has animal behavior regulations in its municipal code, including a section that addresses less threatening behavior and another section that discusses vicious animal behavior. 

Surrounding municipalities have already repealed their pit bull bans, including Aurora, Castle Rock, Commerce City, Denver and Fort Lupton, according to the ordinance’s staff report. 

This ordinance would amend one section of code by deleting the current definition of “pit bull” and repeal and reserve another section titled “The Unlawful Keeping of Pit Bulls.”

Councilmember Wynne Shaw explained that she has learned more about this issue and is happy about the ordinance. 

“This is a very emotional issue for myself and for people in the community,” said Shaw. “I’ve begun to understand that it is the behavior that needs to be enforced, and I’m so glad we have provisions in our code to provide for that now.”

During public comment, community member Jill Potter spoke about how pet owners should be responsible for their dog’s behavior, regardless of breed. She said, “Education about behavior is how we move forward as a community.” 

Ali Mickelson, public affairs advisor at Dumb Friends League, said that the nonprofit is opposed to any regulations banning dogs based on their breed. She explained that banning a breed doesn’t necessarily guarantee that people won’t still have that breed, but will lead to reduced socialization. Dogs kept hidden because of these regulations are prone to more aggressive behavior because they have not had a chance to interact with other dogs and people. 

She explained that she has children of her own and wants to keep them safe, but banning pit bulls isn’t the way to do that. 

“I want my kids to make safe decisions about all dogs, regardless of breed,” Mickelson said.

Jackie Powell, a resident of Acres Green, explained that banning a certain breed is not a good lesson to teach Lone Tree’s youth. “We teach kids not to treat people differently just because they look different. Breed discrimination is the same thing,” said Powell. “Animals have feelings just like everyone else.”

Mayor Pro Tem Cathie Brunnick moved to approve the ordinance, and the motion passed with all council members in favor. The second hearing will be conducted at the next Lone Tree City Council meeting on June 15.

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