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How to get a permit for your pit bull in Denver

Owners should get in touch with Denver Animal Protection to set up a breed-restricted assessment.

DENVER — Starting in 2021, it will be legal to own pit bulls in the city and county of Denver, so long as owners get their dogs permitted.

In November, Denver voters repealed the 31-year ban on pit pulls in the city and county. According to Denver’s election results page, 64% of voters were in favor of overturning the ban and 35% were against it.

"If we have the dogs permitted, we have a good sense of what dogs are in our community," said Josh Rolfe, a lieutenant with Denver Animal Protection.

On Wednesday morning, a room inside the Denver Animal Shelter sounded more like the floor of the Westminster Dog Show.

Rolfe gestured toward Penguin, a black and white pit bull terrier mix at his feet. Another officer handled the pup as Rolfe pointed out standard features in the pit bull breed.

“The feet on the dog you want to be tight and compact and fairly medium size in relation to the rest of the animal," said Rolfe. 

“The shoulders should be muscular," Rolfe said. “She does have pretty good muscle tone.”

Penguin was not part of any competition, but she was still best in a show of sorts: a demonstration of a breed-restricted assessment.

The city wants pit bull owners to contact Denver Animal Protection beginning on Jan. 2 to set up a breed-restricted assessment. The process takes about 45 minutes. 

If animal protection officers identify the dog as a restricted breed, the owner must get a permit. The assessment costs $25 and the permit is an additional $30.

Owners must renew their permits for three years. If there are no violations involving their dogs during that timeframe, owners may request to be removed from the breed-restricted requirements.

“These breeds are no different than every other breed," said Denver councilman Chris Herndon.

Herndon helped come up with the pit bull permitting plan. 

“Animals are family and so that’s why I’m excited that now moving forward, the city and county of Denver is going to allow all breeds to be a part of the city," he said.

The new rules make it legal to own or adopt a pit bull including an unexpected show dog like Penguin.

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