Denver Pit Bull Ban Protest 1/21/2011

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In the wake of frustration over Denver’s pit bull ban, local residents of the city and their supporters converged in front of Denver City Hall in an effort to encourage its reversal.  One of the featured speakers of today’s event was Shorty Rossi of “Pit Boss,” which airs on Animal Planet.  At the center of the controversy is the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that essentially outlaws the ownership of pit bull dogs in Denver.

The case of Dias v Denver is the litigation challenging the constitutionality of the pit bull ban. In a decision from the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals, the court said “taking the factual allegations in the complaint as true, the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the pit bull ban is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, we conclude that the district court erred in dismissing the substantive due process claim insofar as the plaintiffs seek retrospective relief.”

The federal law that addresses the subject of service dogs does not regulate what dog breed a person may have as a service dog.  The city of Denver’s ban on pit bulls therefore justifies the litigation.

In these photographs, you will see activists consisting of dog groomers/trainers, and a veteran who came back from active duty and has PTSD. Among the group are Shorty Rossi (Animal Planet), Carla Madison (Denver City Counsel), & Sonya Dias (the plaintiff in the litigation).  If they lived in Denver they would be told they can’t own a pit bull if they wanted to. The thought process of why a person can own a German Shepard but not a pit bull is not clear. Counsel woman Carla Madison compared the ban to a form of discrimination, which it is.

One of the speakers, a U.S. soldier, told the story of how she was walking her pit bull and was bum rushed by the police department in the process of walking her dog.  She was transferred to Colorado in 2002. She moved to Denver unaware of the pit pull ban. 3 days after signing the lease, she is walking her dog and a van jumps the curb and goes in her direction. The guy in the van jumps out of the vehicle and yells “Are you going to comply?! Are you going to comply?!” She looks at him confused because she is wondering what she is not complying with. The policeman tells her “Ignorance is no excuse! If you don’t comply, by the time you get out of jail, all your dogs will be dead!” She pleaded with him to tell her what she allegedly was not complying with. The police then proceed to throw her on the ground at gunpoint. They then put her dog on a rabies pull and drag her off cowering with burn marks on the dog.  When she explained that she did not know what she was did wrong, he explained the situation to her about the ban and told her what she needed to do to get her dog back. After getting her dog back and having it shipped to her parents out of state, she eventually goes to court. The judge reportedly told her “I wish I had my jurisdiction extended there I would have her killed there too” during the proceedings. When she got out of court, she sat in her car for an hour and cried. When people serve their country, this is not a way in which they want to be thanked for their service.

When Shorty spoke, he said “if ignorant city council men can have their own martial law, it shows how ignorant they are.” He also encouraged the process of positive protest to get the message across and discouraged people from sending hate mail because hate mail makes activists look bad. He also said there is a “1 in 25 million chance that you will be bitten by a dog” of any breed. Because of government stupidity, Denver is killing family pets, he said. He called the assertion that there are 20yrs of statistics about pit bulls “a crock of shit.”

Famous people who have owned pit bulls include Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, and Jimmy Carter.