Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pit bull lover will help make breeds’ case at rally against ban in Denver

By AMY HAMILTON/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

Sunday, August 23, 2009

There’s no denying that Margaret Csikos of Grand Junction loves her one-and-half-year-old dog, Sophie. The two are inseparable and travel together frequently.

But not to Denver.

Csikos, an interior designer and a grandmother who enjoys a vibrant cultural and arts scene, might like to move to Denver, but not while one of its laws remains in place. Sophie, a pit bull, is banned from the city, so trips to Denver mean Csikos has to stay in hotels outside the city for Sophie’s sake.

“I love all animals, but I’m particularly fond of pit bulls,” she said.

Csikos said she will attend a rally Tuesday in Denver to protest the ban.

She’s hoping her presence there will bring awareness to the breeds, which she says have unfairly earned a bad reputation. It’s the owners who abuse their dogs and make them violent, not the pit bull breeds themselves, that spur attacks, Csikos said.

Pit bulls were banned in Denver in 1989 after a minister was attacked and a boy was killed during separate incidents. It wasn’t until 2005 when the law was strictly enforced. The ordinance calls for euthanizing any pit bulls found in the city limits, and an estimated 1,100 pit bulls have been euthanized since 2007 in Denver.

Three former Denver residents who moved from the city with their pit bulls are refiling a claim in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They join a list of opponents who have challenged the law over the years.

Csikos said pit bulls face unfair stigmas in the media when other dog breeds are just as likely to bite.

“I take her to the dog park, and everybody knows her there,” she said. “She’s not penned up in the backyard. They’re little gladiators. They have to run everyday. It’s very unfair that they’ve been stigmatized through the press.”