AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora City Council members decided Jan. 10 they would not back away from their stance on banning pit bulls within the city — even as looming federal rules require cities to allow them as service dogs.
New Department of Justice regulations released last summer require cities to allow pit bulls as service animals for people with disabilities beginning March.
They are putting the pit bull issue on their winter workshop agenda at the request of Councilwoman Renie Peterson, who said they should revisit the entire restricted breed ban.
“I don’t know all the history that led us to this ordinance to begin with,” Peterson said. “Maybe we should have a new discussion about how people feel about pit bulls as a whole.”
City Attorney Charlie Richardson said at the city council study session that city officials would be restricted in their ability to gauge whether a pit bull is really a service dog if they follow the directives from the Department of Justice.
“We are extremely limited in questioning someone about the disability that gives rise to the need for the animal,” Richardson said.
However, he did caution that the city could potentially open itself up to a federal lawsuit if it does not follow the federal guidelines.
The matter is complicated further because requiring proof of a person’s disability is unlawful, Richardson said.
Richardson recommended that council members decide what to do before the federal regulations take effect.
According to the new regulations from the Department of Justice, cities will no longer be allowed to prohibit a disabled person from keeping a pit bull or restricted breed as a service dog effective March 15. Currently, it’s against city ordinance to own pit bulls, although residents who owned the dogs prior to 2005 when the ordinance was passed are allowed to keep their animals by paying an annual license fee and complying with licensing requirements.
Friday, January 14, 2011
The Aurora Sentinel:
Posted by BA Haller at 4:47 PM