AURORA | By a 2-to-1 margin, Aurora voters say they don’t want pit bulls to return to the city, based on early returns.
With more than 70,000 votes counted across Adams and Arapahoe counties so far, voters have overwhelmingly said no to Aurora ballot question 2D, which would lift the city’s 9-year-old ban on the dogs.
In Arapahoe County, 68 percent of voters said no. In Adams County, 63 percent voted against lifting the ban.
Aurora officials agreed July 14 to ask voters to repeal the city’s decade-old ban on pit bulls (File photo by AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)The issue has been extremely contentious for years in Aurora, but especially since the city council pitched the question to voters. The issue has drawn national attention, from both critics and proponents of the ban.
Colleen Lynn, a supporter of breed bans and founder of the group dogsbite.org, said she was happy with the outcome in Aurora, but a bit surprised by the margin of victory for the ban.
“I didn’t expect it to be this big,” she said.
Lynn said that while pit bull supporters are often very public and vocal in their support for the breed, there are many people who oppose the breed but don’t want to speak publicly about it.
“We believe that the majority of Americans do not want to live next door to a pit bull period. And that is usually a very silent majority,” she said.
Lynn said that’s why her group supports ballot measures like Aurora, because they give people a chance to privately voice their concerns about the animals.
Under the city’s current rules, three breeds of dogs commonly recognized as pit bulls — American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers — are banned within the city limits. When city council first enacted the ban in 2005, there were 10 breeds barred from the city, but council in 2011 softened the ban to just three breeds and gave owners a chance to have their dog DNA-tested to prove whether they were in fact a banned breed.
Dogs who were already in the city at the time of the ban were allowed to stay if their owners paid a registration fee and followed certain restrictions.
According to the city’s numbers, about 90 registered pit bulls remain in the city, down from about 500 when the ban took effect. The city has euthanized more than 1,100 restricted-breed dogs since the ban.
Opponents of the ban have argued that the law should focus on irresponsible dog owners as opposed to specific breeds.
But supporters of banning the dogs, which include the city’s Animal Care Division, have said pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds and should be barred from Aurora. Plus, opponents say, because Denver and other cities have similar bans, Aurora would become a dumping ground for dogs barred from other cities.