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I shared the below comments to the City Council Safety Committee regarding a proposed update to allow special licensing of the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Denver County.

If you weren’t aware, as of 1/23/2020 the city and county of Denver, Colorado does not allow three specific dog breeds: the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Below you’ll find a two minute speech I gave to the City Council Safety Committee regarding a proposed update to allow special licensing of these breeds, which would essentially end the ban. Keep in mind I had to keep things brief, so the essay below doesn’t capture the entirety of my views on the subject but I think it’s still worth sharing.

Hello everyone, my name is Scott Ross – I’m a Denver resident, I’m the owner of Chill Out Dog Training, and I’m a certified trainer through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers – which is our city’s trusted organization for court ordered canine socialization classes. In my career, I’ve spent hundreds of hands-on hours working dogs though aggression issues and getting incredible results – so, I have an in depth, first-hand attained knowledge on the matter of breed and behavior.

With my experience-built, deep understanding of aggressive dog behavior, including its causes and remedies, I fully support the proposed updates to the breed specific legislation (BSL), and here’s why:

First, I can affirm though experience that breed is NOT a useful predictor of aggression. I wager my personal safety on this fact several times each week. Breed is merely a rough guideline for temperament and physical capacity. Now, of course, a larger, stronger, more determined dog is going to be more dangerous if acting out physically, that said, size is the most important factor here, not breed. Yet, a size restriction law would not be fair or desirable.

Next, there’s a wide range of individuality within each breed, and like every other breed, the vast majority of Pitties are both dog and human friendly, and thus each dog, Pit Bull or otherwise, ought to be judged on its personal history and not it’s lineage. Under the current legislation, many well-behaved, safe dogs, and their families are negatively affected. And, folks with BSL breeds who move to Denver from out of town are being forced to either give up their dog or lie about it, both of which are unacceptable options.

Lastly, this law disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic status families as they tend to acquire dogs through rescue organizations, and a large portion of rescue dogs are subject to Denver’s current breed specific laws.

There are many other grounds on which we could critique the state of the current legislation, but as a canine behavior expert, who works with families on their dogs’ behavior nearly every day, these are the reasons closest to me. Thank you for taking the time to listen, and for your consideration of this proposed update.

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