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Aurora City Council will decide the fate of the city’s pit bull ban without public vote

If passed, the ordinance will allow Aurora residents to own pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers within city limits.

AURORA, Colo. — In a 7-3 vote, the Aurora City Council decided Monday to move forward with an ordinance that would allow the council to lift the city’s Restricted Breed Ordinance.

The ordinance, led by Councilmember Allison Hiltz, will have to pass a final vote during the next City Council meeting before implementation.

If passed, the ordinance will allow Aurora residents to own pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers within city limits.

Councilmembers chose this plan over Mayor Mike Coffman’s proposal to introduce a ballot measure on lifting the pit bull ban that would have gone to a vote in November 2021. Coffman’s plan was rejected with a 3-7 vote.

In 2014, an Aurora ballot measure to lift the Restricted Breed Ordinance failed with 64% voting against the measure.

“I feel that since the voters have pined on this issue that we should refer it back to them,” Coffman said.

Coffman’s proposed ballot measure used the same language as a measure passed in Denver last month, including requirements for pit bull owners to get dogs microchipped, only have two per home and pay annually for a permit.

Multiple councilmembers argued that Coffman’s plan was not a full repeal like Hiltz’s, as it still required government approval and permitting for certain breeds.

“The concern is it maintains the discrimination between particular breeds of dogs,” Councilmember Alison Coombs said. “It doesn’t have the same impact as the ordinance to repeal.”

Supporters of Coffman’s ordinance argued that it is unfair to ignore the will of the people; however, Hiltz said the city’s circumstances have changed drastically since 2014, including animal service outreach and surveys showing public support for lifting breed restrictions.

Councilmember Juan Marcano also pointed to the fact that the original Restricted Breed Ordinance was put into place in 2005 by the Aurora City Council without any public vote.

“Since this was created by the council, it should be undone by the council,” Marcano said. “If the voters disagree, we will suffer the consequences of that. That is what we are elected to do.”

Aurora recently implemented strict dangerous dog measures to address menacing or harmful behaviors by any breed. These measures include requiring a dog to wear a muzzle or the owner to buy liability insurance.

In 2020, 12% of reported dog bites in Aurora were from restricted breeds. That’s down from nearly 16% in 2019.

According to city data, Aurora spends 2.5 times as much on average to shelter restricted breeds like pit bulls. Resources are also spent on enforcing restrictions as the city issued 253 summons regarding restricted breeds this year.

>> Visit The Denver Gazette

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