Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pit bull case unleashed

Owner contests Aurora's restrictions on breed
The Aurora Sentinel
Published: Monday, November 17, 2008 9:32 PM MST
AURORA | More than two years after the city implemented a controversial pit pull ban, one owner is challenging the city’s statutes in U.S. district court.

Florence Vianzon Sasek, who owns a 5-year old American Staffordshire Terrier, says the city ban’s stipulations are unconstitutional and unfair. The city’s current restrictions require Sasek to lock her dog in a crate during car rides and put a muzzle on its jaws when she takes the dog for walks.

Sasek’s terrier, which was able to remain in the city because of a grandfather clause, is one of the several breeds specified in the 2006 ban.

Sasek’s case was heard in the U.S. District court in Denver on Monday and was filed by the American Canine Foundation.

Glen Bui, spokesman for the ACF, has long held that Aurora’s ban is based on faulty data and is tantamount to the targeted elimination of several breeds.

“It’s extermination of a species,” Bui said earlier this year. “There’s nowhere in the country where anyone has any accurate proof that breed bans actually protect the public ... You cannot cull or exterminate something of that nature because it’s a reproductive species and no matter what you do, it’s going to keep breeding. People love them like they love their children.”

But the city has offered data that points to lower incidences of bites since the ban took place. A report from earlier this year shows that the percentage of reported bites from restricted breeds dipped dramatically after 2006, with only 6 percent of reported bites coming from restricted breeds in 2006 and accounting for 7 percent in 2007. In 2006, the city reported 758 restricted breed impoundments, a number that shrunk to 269 in 2007, a decrease of 65 percent.

As part of the ban, a fee of $218 has been attached to a restricted breed license.

City attorney Charlie Richardson has stated that the ban is lawful and constitutional, pointing out that it’s already survived a challenge in court.

But for Sasek, it’s unfair legislation, a ban that unfairly targets what she deems a harmless pet.

“She’s a great, sweet, gentle dog,” she said.

Courts in other states, including New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Arkansas and Ohio, have upheld challenges to their pit-bull ordinances.

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