Town of Castle Rock’s Town Council on May 1, 2018, voted in favor (5-0) of the proposed animal ordinance which included a replacement of the ban on pitbulls (breed specific legislation) with a breed-neutral, 2-tier potentially dangerous and dangerous dog ordinance that focuses on the behavior of the individual dog and its owner, rather than just physical characteristics. This new ordinance is part of the completely overhauled new animal code.
The new ordinance went into effect on June 1, 2018. Pitbulls are officially allowed in Castle Rock!
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What is a BSL?
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) s a law that bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually because they are perceived as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs. For 25 years, Castle Rock has had a ban on pitbulls and pitbull type dogs. It is now time to change that.
The Town defines a pitbull as: Any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds. The A.K.C. and U.K.C. standards for the above breeds are on file in the office of the Town Clerk. http://crgov.com/DocumentCenter/View/1493
Castle Rock Animal Control currently uses vet records, owner interview and a basic visual assessment to determine if the dog is a pitbull or not. If the dog is seized, then a full, in-depth characteristic assessment is completed to determine whether a possible pitbull type dog displays more than 50% of the characteristics of a pitbull, such as head and neck circumference. If the dog has 50% of less of the characteristics, they can remain in the town. 51% or more, they must leave.
However, there is no science behind properly identifying a dog as a pitbull or that its appearance pre-determines its behavior. “A dog’s physical appearance cannot tell observers anything about its behavior. Even dogs of similar appearance and the same breed often have diverse behavioral traits in the same way that human siblings often have very different personalities,” said Julie Levy, D.V.M., Ph.D., a professor of shelter medicine at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and the lead author of a study published recently in The Veterinary Journal. Research also shows that trying to identify a dog as a pitbull is extremely flawed, even for dog breed experts.
DNA studies reveal that shelter workers often mislabel dogs as “pitbulls”
Proposed Two-Tier System for Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dogs that the staff committee wants to replace the pitbull ban and current dangerous animal code with.
Current code in addition to the pitbull ban:
Unlawful to keep in Town after conviction in Municipal Court with no exceptions.
Moving to a two-tiered system better enables situations to be treated on a case-by-case basis. It would likely enhance the ability to track the animals that have been previously deemed potentially dangerous, it would increase flexibility in assessing the severity of the incident that may not require euthanasia or removal (from the Town) for minor bites. Most importantly, it allows for animals to be kept in their homes with their families as most bites are a result of the owner’s lack of knowledge of animal behavior and the two-tiered system allows for education and training classes to be court ordered. According to the Town’s attorney’s, this system is highly effective at preventing the incident from happening again.
Proposed Two-Tier System-Definitions:
Dangerous Animal- Means any animal, except a dog assisting an Animal Control Officer that:
(a) Causes serious bodily injury to any person or domestic animal or behaves in a manner that would have resulted in such serious bodily injury except for the fact that there was intervention by a person to stop the behavior.
(b) Has been previously adjudged as a potentially dangerous dog under this Title and the owner has failed to obtain and maintain the required potentially dangerous animal permit, or the animal has engaged in subsequent behavior that poses a threat to public safety or for which any of the potentially dangerous animal permit conditions set forth for keeping of potentially dangerous animals have been violated (unless the animal owner has been relieved of the obligation to maintain such permit as set forth in this Chapter.)
(c) Engages in or has been trained for animal fighting as described and prohibited in Section 18-9-204, C.R.S.
Potential Dangerous Animal
Means any animal, except a dog assisting Animal Control Officer that may be a threat to public safety as may be demonstrated by any of the following behavior:
(a) Causes any injury less than serious bodily injury to any person or domestic animal at any place within the Town.
(b) Without provocation, approaches any person in a menacing or terrorizing manner or in apparent attitude of attack, whether such person is in motion or standing still, and whether such person is on foot or in a vehicle or device which allows such person to be in motion.
(c) Attacks any person who is lawfully on the owner’s property.
(d) Acts in a highly aggressive manner within a fenced yard or enclosure and appears to a reasonable person to be able to jump over or escape such fenced yard or enclosure.
The Town’s Law Enforcement and Attorneys have spent over a year reviewing the current 25 year old animal code and researching scholarly sources, speaking with neighboring jurisdictions without breed bans and analyzing statistics. Their recommendation that Council consider replacing the Breed Specific Legislation is based on a myriad of factors including (Source: Town of Castle Rock www.crgov.com/animals):
- Continued focus on public health and safety;
- Addressing difficulties related to enforcement for the Town’s Animal Control Officers, Law Enforcement Officers, the Municipal Prosecutor and the Municipal Judge, including costs, time and resources devoted to impounding and prosecuting a dog that has not done anything wrong, but instead is in the Court based system based solely on how the dog looks.
- Bite data from our Town and surrounding jurisdiction and the lack of reliable scientific data suggesting one breed is any more or less aggressive than another;
- Review of our neighboring jurisdictions in terms of how they handle potentially dangerous and dangerous animals;
- Review of our neighboring jurisdictions related to the absence, or presence of Breed Specific Legislation;
- Breed Specific Legislation is not endorsed by a number of organizations including the State of Colorado (C.R.S. 18-9-204.5, et. Seq);
- Challenges attendant to enforcing Breed Specific Legislation including issues related to breed identification and the complexities related to the same;
- Developments in the law including Service Animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Emotional Support Animals;
- An evolution of thought regarding addressing an animal’s behavior as an indicator of future acts, instead of how the animal looks;
- Feedback from Town residents in favor of replacing the Breed Specific Legislation and those against;
- The concern that Breed Specific Legislation may drive residents to not license their dogs, or seek appropriate and necessary veterinary care, including shots, and spaying or neutering, as well as driving some of the dogs into homes where they may not be socialized or get proper exercise;
- Eliminates the ability of one neighbor from using a dog’s breed in retaliation for something unrelated to the dog’s behavior;
- Practical considerations related to representatives from the Town forcing people to give up their pets when the animal has done nothing wrong and based solely on how it looks. Also difficult are the situations where:
- New residents unwittingly move into Town, with their pets, and are not aware of the Town’s Breed Ban (there are 271 Towns and Cities throughout the state and only 9 have some form of Breed Specific Legislation, and there are 64 Counties in Colorado and none have Breed Specific Legislation); or
- Fosters and rescues are not aware of the Breed Ban and place an animal in Town that might fall within the Breed Specific Legislation; or
- A prospective pet owner is not aware of the Breed Ban, and adopts an animal that might fall within the Breed Specific Legislation; or
- It might limit a type of dog from being fostered, rescued, or permanently placed in a home based solely on how the dog looks; and finally,
- Someone might adopt a puppy – whose breeding is uncertain- only to have it grow up to looks like a dog (whether or not it actually is) that might fall under the Breed Ban.
- The difficulties attendant to euthanizing or removing an animal that has a home and where the dog has not done anything wrong, and forcing the dog to shelter- thereby taking space that could be used for animals that may not have homes- or forcing the resident to move outside the Town’s limits; and
- What to do with the dogs currently in Town that might fall within the Breed Ban.