Were innocent dogs killed?
Pit bull advocates wonder if city has put down misidentified dogs
Peter Marcus, DDN Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
“Pit bull advocates would like to know just how many innocent dogs have been killed by the city simply because the dogs were wrongly identified as being part of the banned breed.
Suggesting that hundreds of innocent dogs may have been killed by the city, advocates are calling for an immediate re-evaluation of the city’s controversial ordinance.
At the center of the debate is a recent case in which an administrative judge ruled that animal control officers wrongly labeled a boxer-mix as a pit bull. Three so-called experts with Denver Animal Care and Control had labeled Kevin O’Connell’s dog Dexter a pit bull. But O’Connell’s own experts — American Kennel Club judges and professional dog handlers — testified last week that Dexter was in no way a pit bull.
The ruling was a victory for O’Connell and Dexter — but it came with a price. The owner will spend thousands of dollars in legal and city fees by the time all his bills are paid — all for an error on the city’s part. He will even need to pay boarding fees for the 10 days his dog was locked up — during which time Dexter developed kennel cough just from being inside the shelter.
While O’Connell was fortunate enough to have the money to fight for his dog, many are not, pointed out Jennifer Edwards, founder of the Wheat Ridge-based Animal Law Center and O’Connell’s lead attorney. She and her organization believe hundreds of dogs wrongly identified as pit bulls may have already been killed by the city or are currently sitting on “pit bull row.”
“It desperately needs to be addressed,” said Edwards. “I am positive that there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands of dogs that are similarly situated to Dexter, and I think that we need to call into question Denver’s procedures as far as their breed recognition and determination of these prohibited breeds.””
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The horror of what’s taking place to Denver’s pit bulls can easily happen in any community where BSL is allowed to pass. That’s why we cannot give up and continue to fight. Kudos to the anti-BSL movement in Denver for not accepting defeat.