Pinch me. We’re about to have the pit bull battle again.
I really thought we were done fighting over the fact that not all pit bulls are killing machines, but when they go into attack mode, they’re just so damned good at killing other pets and sometimes people.
I thought at first I was hearing things last year, when Aurora City Council and mayoral candidates were unexpectedly and unabashedly talking about repealing Aurora’s 14-year-old ban on pit bulls.
Not only has the ban been around longer than anyone knew who Barack Obama was, about five years ago Aurora voters doubled down by voting to uphold it.
Suddenly, it’s back in the news and the Denver City Council is striking theirs down.
I totally get that as we’ve made some kind of effort as a nation to study the behavior of “pit-bull-like” dogs, it’s not clear whether these animals are any more dangerous than any other dog.
This, however, is clear. Do you want to live next door to one of these dogs?
I didn’t think so.
I do live next to one. Here’s what I can tell you. It’s an overweight and endearing slobber factory. The dog has been bred practically to death. Leaning over the fence, she sweetly laps up pats and scratches until it becomes too much work to get them and then flops down for another nap. That’s her consistent MO — until she sees a small dog. The change is astonishing. She aggressively barks and pounds at an iron gate as terrified pet-owners hurry past the house.
I don’t have to imagine what would happen if the dog got out. I’ve talked with at least a dozen people in metro Aurora whose dog was killed or maimed by a pit-bull attack.
I’ve talked with people who’ve lost arms and hands to pit bulls. I’ve talked to people who were dragged by a pit bull after it got them on the ground.
I get that any dog can be dangerous. They’re wolves for chrissake. They act like wolves. And when they get scared or excited, dachshunds and Pekingese can be dangerous animals, too.
But a dachshund won’t bust through a storm-door window and chase down a passing poodle and shake it in its jaws until the dog is dead. I’ve talked to the owners of dogs who were killed like that by pit bulls, and they’re not convinced a golden retriever is equally as dangerous in their neighborhoods.
I’m with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on this one: That city’s proposed permit system won’t solve the problem, and the problem is dogs that can kill or maim, regardless of what’s inside their genetic sequence.
Less than 20 percent of Denver pets are currently registered, about the same here in Aurora. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that making new registration rules is going to do anything to make people safer from dangerous dogs.
Despite all the doggy-do-right drama and memes from people who parade their “harmless” pit-bulls around and post pictures of Pookie snoozing next to their infant children, it’s a hazard rational people don’t want to risk in their neighborhoods and dog parks.
It’s not about anyone’s constitutional rights or the American way. It’s about living in a big city very, very close to each other and having to respect each other’s space. If it’s all about you and wanting your very own pit bull or nuclear reactor or brown recluse spider ranch, live somewhere far away from anyone who doesn’t think that’s a keen idea.
Pets get loose.
Ask anyone who’s had a run-in with a pit bull who surprised everyone, or not, they’re not interested in ways to take care of the problem after it happens.
No doubt this argument will be coming soon to Aurora, where just a few years ago voters gave a serious thumbs up to continuing this city’s ban on pit bulls. If Denver or Aurora want to undermine that and replace it with a system of permits and promises, expect a fight — unless they’re willing to police the city for scofflaws and spend the money needed to enforce a law that actually works.
The chances are much better that my neighbor’s front gate will hold.
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