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CO: Aurora - City Council to Comply with ADA and Re-Evaluate BSL!!

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Aurora City Council set to change course on service dog rule

SARA CASTELLANOS, The Aurora Sentinel Aurora Sentinel
AURORA | People with disabilities should be allowed to have pit bulls as service dogs within the city, Aurora City Council members decided at their Feb. 5 winter workshop meeting.

In a twist of events, council members moved forward a proposal they initially denounced a few weeks prior, at the recommendation of city staff and lawyers.

The proposal to allow restricted breeds, including pit bulls, as service dogs within the city but still uphold the city-wide ban on those breeds will be formally voted on at a meeting later this month.

The ordinance complies with the new Department of Justice rules that amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to require municipalities to allow restricted breeds as service dogs come March 15.

"We're not interested in going to war with the Department of Justice, but at the same time we don't want to completely abandon the law on the books," said Mayor Ed Tauer at the meeting.

Councilman Bob FitzGerald said he was still concerned with the fact that anyone can claim they have a disability and that they need a service dog without proof, under the ordinance.

"I think there has to be a nexus between the disability and the dog," he said.

Federal law prohibits local governments from asking "unnecessary inquiries" about a person's disability.

Council members also decided at the meeting that they want to re-evaluate whether there should be a breed-specific ban in the city or whether they should pare down the list of restricted breeds.

"It would be my preference that we have a dangerous animal ordinance," said Councilwoman Renie Peterson.

She said discriminating on an entire breed of dogs within the city is foolish when any type of dog has the potential to bite someone.

"Just because it's a pit bull doesn't mean it's a vicious animal," she said.

The meeting drew about 10 pit bull advocates from surrounding cities.

Arvada resident Dee Tapia-Gonzales said the end result was a step forward but there's still a long way to go.

"It's not what I would have liked to see happen but it is progress," said Tapia-Gonzales, a pit bull owner. "Ideally I would have wanted them to lift the restricted breed ban."

Aurora City Council set to change course on service dog rule - Aurora Sentinel: News
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Aurora looks to become ADA compliant while city councilman misleads about the stats

Aurora looks to become ADA compliant while city councilman misleads about the stats

Last week, city officials in Aurora, CO announced that they were planning to adjust their breed ban to allow for 'pit bulls' as service dogs in order to become compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. While nearby Denver decided a couple of months ago to fight the Department of Justice ruling that forbids breed discriminatory laws from applying to service dogs, Aurora took the opposite path.
"We're not interested in going to war with the Department of Justice" said Mayor Ed Tauer. Unfortunately he also added "but at the same time, we don't want to completely abandon the law on the books.
However, there does seem to be some discussion about whether or not to get rid of the city's breed ban (which applies to 'pit bulls', American Bulldogs, Canar Dogs, Cane Corsos, Toso Inu, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brassilleiro and Presa Mallorquins) altogether. Councilwoman Renie Peterson would support a behavior-based ordinance, as would Councilwoman Melissa Miller. However, Mayor Tauer and council members Brad Pierce and Bob FitzGerald appear less willing to make such a change.
Meanwhile, councilman Bob Broom seems perfectly content to make up numbers as he goes along to support keeping the breed ban. "Statistics show that the number of bites have gone way down, and we haven't had any severe incidents with pit bulls since the ordinance has been in place," Broom told the Denver Westwood last week.
Of course, if you look at the actual numbers, Broom appears to be very wrong in his assessment.
Thanks to a kind reader for passing the information along -- here is a copy of the notes that were supplied to the city council for their hearings on the topic. The notes include a lot of data, information on the restricted breeds, a history of the ordinance and dog bite numbers in the city.
According to the data presented:

  • 2003 -- 213 dog bites, 28 by the nine restricted breeds, 185 by non restricted breeds
  • 2004 - 211 dog bites, 33 by restricted breeds, 178 by non-restricted breeds
  • 2005 -- 137 dog bites, 27 by restricted breeds, 110 by non-restricted breeds
The new breed ban was enacted in January 2006 -- yes, as a way to target 15-20% of the total bites leaving 80% un-impacted. Also, one other change was to track dog vs dog bites and not just bites on humans. So because of this, the numbers would be expected to go up some in 2006 -- which they did.

  • 2006 - 137 dog bites, 8 by restricted breeds, 129 by non restricted breeds
  • 2007 - 172 dog bites, 15 by restricted breeds, 157 by non-restricted breeds
  • 2008 - 224 dog bites, 8 by restricted breeds, 216 by non-restricted breeds
  • 2009 -- 229 dog bites, 9 by restricted breeds, 220 by non-restricted breeds
  • 2010 - 194 dog bites, 6 by restricted breed, 188 by non-restricted ones.
So even though some increase in 2006 would be expected because of the addition to bites involved dogs onto other dogs, the 67% increase in total dog bites (including a 71% increase from non restricted breeds) between 2006 and 2009 is 100% a reflection of the ordinance.
That's not a decrease Mr. Broom. Nor is it success.
And to his point about no major attacks by restricted breeds since the ordinance was passed, it's worth noting here that in all of the documentation, there is no mention of their being any attacks by the restricted breeds BEFORE the ordinance was passed - -only "concern" from residents about there being more 'pit bulls' in the city and the city reacting to Denver's breed ban.
Meanwhile, a look at the "operational impacts" of the law, you get a feel for why the bite numbers have been going up, not down. Beginning in 2005 (when they first started talking about the law), the city has impounded more than 2,000 restricted breeds -- with nearly all of them ending up killed.
The impounding of the restricted breeds has also been a drain on their financial and kennel resources because the restricted breds were taking up kennel space that could have been used to house dogs of other breeds (which, I suppose, were likely also killed or transfered to other shelters to make space for the restricted breeds being held for their court dates) and Veterinary costs were higher due to the number of dogs being impounded.
This is a huge amount of resources (rounding up and killing 2,000+ dogs) when less than 30 of them (about 1.5% if the 2,000 reflects all of the restricted breeds that exist) were involved in any type of dog by incident in the years prior to passing the law. It should also be worth noting that 7 of the 9 breeds targeted had no record of any bites prior to the ordinance being passed - which would lead one to conclude that the ordinance was passed more out of fear and hysteria than because of any real problems they were trying to solve. It's simply an amazing number of resources to waste, and a big reason why these diverted resources led to an increase in dog bites from non-targeted breeds.
Amazingly, in spite of this, the "staff" has still recommended that the city keep this ordinance - -which shows a lot more desire to either save face or continue with breed bias (or, as often is the case, the perception of the types of people who they perceive to own the targeted breeds) vs a true desire for public safety.
But make no mistake, there is nothing in the numbers that indicate that public safety has actually improved and that actually, it's quite the opposite.
There are ten members of the Aurora city council -- hopefully more of them will take a real look at the numbers and realize how ineffective the ordinance has been. Also, it would be hoped that a lot of citizens and dog owners in the community come forward and demand a better use of their tax dollars.
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