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AURORA, Colorado, USA: Breed ban kills three ‘Pit Bulls’ per day

OVER 150 dogs have been destroyed in the city of Aurora, Colorado since the city council’s breed specific ban on ‘pit bull type’ dogs started in February.

Aurora banned new pit bulls and several other breeds as of February 1. Owners who already had the animals were allowed to keep them under a ‘grandfather clause’ if they paid a registration fee and met several other requirements. However, any unregistered dogs of the ‘pit bull type’ will be seized and destroyed, irrespective of their behaviour, but judged entirely on their looks and resemblance to ‘pit bulls’.

Aurora has euthanased an average of more than three pit bulls dogs a day, or 166 from Feb. 1 to March 20, according to the city’s main newspaper, the Aurora Sentinel. The number of destructions is double the city average for stray and abandoned dogs.

Last year, the Aurora animal shelter had to kill 922 dogs - more than half of those were classed as pit bulls or one of the other breeds restricted under the ban -making it an average of 1.5 of the dogs being put down each day, according to Cheryl Conway, Aurora's animal care spokeswoman.

"This is gross," says Sonya Dias, an organizer of the Pit Bull Band, an anti-BSL group that is fighting the ban. "How many of these dogs were aggressive or were dangerous? And how many were just good family pets? I think it's sad. Government action based on fear and not on human and animal safety experts."

Pit bull owners in Aurora obtained permits for ‘grandfathered’ 477 pit bulls in the months leading up to the ban's enforcement, and most of the euthanased dogs appear to be strays, officials said. Animal care officials said only 46 tickets for violating the ban were issued to dog owners during the same time period.

Nancy Sheffield, Aurora's Director of Neighbourhood Services, said she gets about 400 complaints from people who believe one of their neighbours has unregistered pit bulls. Anti-BSL campaigners believe that many of these calls are malicious in nature from people settling grudges against neighbours they dislike.

Similarly, between May 9 2005, when neighbouring Denver began enforcing that city's pit bull ban, and March 20 2006, Denver Animal Control euthanased 891 pit bulls, Dias said.