Parachute backs off pit bull ban |

Parachute backs off pit bull ban

Dennis Webb
Parachute Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” Town board member Linda Waite lives near an elderly, ailing woman who has had pit bulls housed next door to her.

“She couldn’t even go out her back door without feeling threatened,” Waite said Thursday night, explaining her desire to see a pit bull ban imposed in town.

However, after hearing from numerous people opposed to Waite’s idea, the board decided Thursday against passing the ban. Instead, it chose to look into a broader vicious animal ordinance that wouldn’t be breed-specific.

Their decision came after nearly 50 people from as far away as Grand Junction and Carbondale turned out Thursday night regarding the issue.

Several said the problem isn’t pit bulls, but dog owners who don’t do things such as license, sterilize and control their animals.

“I totally agree the public needs to be protected from aggressive dogs, but the laws need to be based on sound science, not personal or biased opinions or hysterical news reports,” said Laura Van Dyne of Carbondale.

The town had given initial approval to the pit bull ordinance, under which only existing pit bulls could have remained in town, and only if they were registered, licensed and sterilized. However, on Thursday night none of the other town board members seconded Waite’s motion to give final passage to the measure, despite her amending it so it also would have included some other breeds, such as Dobermans, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids.

Instead, the board directed Ed Sands, a Rifle attorney who consults for the town, to take a different approach on the matter. Sands said he would prepare an ordinance for the board to consider under which any problem dogs could be designated as potentially dangerous, and required to be strictly confined. If they later behaved in a way deemed to be dangerous, they would have to be destroyed.

Some had questioned whether a pit bull ban in Parachute would have violated a state law prohibiting breed-specific dog bans. However, Sands noted that Denver imposed such a ban and it was upheld by the state Supreme Court because Denver is a home rule city. Parachute also operates under a home rule charter, rather than strictly under state law.

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