One City's Experience - The City of Denver
DogsBite.org - The history of the Denver pit bull ban, which was enacted in 1989, revoked in 2004 and reinstated in 2005, is best summarized in a 2005 Municipal Lawyer article titled, "One City's Experience," by Kory A. Nelson, the Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City and County of Denver. A deeper review of the pit bull ban's legal history can be found in, "Denver's Pit Bull Ordinance, A Review of Its History and Judicial Rulings," (download PDF) also by Mr. Nelson.
We gathered the vicious maulings and fatalities that played a role in the enactment of the Denver pit bull ban. Due to the closeness of the City of Aurora, which passed a Fighting Breed ban in 2005, we included attacks from Aurora as well. Though distinctly two separate cities, their histories regarding the pit bull problem overlap. Combined, the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Statistical Area has an estimated population of 2.3 million, both of which cities prohibit new pit bull terriers.
- (1986) Fernando Salazar | On October 26, 1986, 3-year old Fernando Salazar of Denver wandered into a neighbor's yard and was killed by a pit bull chained to the neighbor's carport. At the time of the attack, Gil Troncasa, the dog's owner, was watching football on T.V. His wife ultimately discovered the deadly incident.
- (1989) Rev. Wilbur Billingsley | On May 8, 1989, 59-year old Rev. Wilbur Billingsley of Denver was attacked by a pit bull in the alley behind his home. The victim suffered serious injuries with over 70 bites and two broken legs. His neighbor, Normal Cable, stopped the assault by firing a shotgun at the dog.1
October 1989, Denver Passes Pit Bull Ban
- (2003) Jennifer Brooke | On November 30, 2003, 40-year old Jennifer Brooke of Elbert County2 was killed by loose pit bulls when she went out to feed her horses. At the time, she had been armed with a baseball bat. Two other victims were bitten in this same incident before arriving officers shot and killed the dogs.
- (2004) John Doe | On February 1, 2004, a 5-year old boy was bitten in the face by a pit bull during a Super Bowl party. The attack occurred in the Montbello home of Vanessa Stephen, who was believed to be the boy's grandmother. Stephen was cited for the attack and for harboring an unregistered pit bull.3
- (2004) On April 14, 2004, Colorado Governor Bill Owens signed House Bill 1279, which prohibited counties and municipalities from regulating dogs through breed-specific laws. Later that same day, the City and County of Denver announced that it would suspend active enforcement of its pit bull ban ordinance.
April 2004, Denver Pit Bull Ban Revoked
- (2004) Jane Doe | On July 13, 2004, a 7-year old girl was attacked near the Denver Tech Center by her babysitter's "mastiff-mix." The babysitter, Gretchen Robinson, had recently adopted the dog from the Denver Dumb Friends League. Arriving officers were forced to shoot the dog three times killing it.4
- (2004) Vivianna Vigil | On September 13, 2004, 3-year old Vivianna Vigil of Aurora was attacked by a pit bull who had gotten out of its owner's house through a screen door. Neighbor Kristen Brown said the pit bull had a "death grip" on the little girl. In August, the same pit bull had attacked a FedEx deliveryman.
- (2004) Gabriel Moody | On October 15, 2004, 6-year old Gabriel Moody was severely bitten in the face by a pit bull in Westminister, which is a northwest suburb of Denver, but lies in a different county. The owner of the dog, Shelley Fernandez of Arvada, had been visiting the boy's family at the time if the attack.
- (2005) John Albergotti | On February 24, 2005, Denver Police Officer John Albergotti was attacked by a pit bull while attempting to locate a homicide suspect. He supplied testimony in the April court case that authorized Denver to reinstate its pit bull ban (City and County of Denver v. State of Colorado).
May 2005, Denver Pit Bull Ban Reinstated
- (2005) Jose Simental | On September 11, 2005, Jose Simental of Aurora was working outside on his truck when four pit bulls attacked him. A friend of his fought the dogs off with a crowbar. The owner of the pit bulls had been "keeping the dogs for her kids" who couldn't house pit bulls because of Denver's ban.5
October 2005, Aurora Passes Fighting Breed Ban
- (2005) Gregg Jones Jr., | On November 2, 2005, 10-year old Gregg Jones Jr. of Aurora was brutally attacked by his mother's three pit bulls in his backyard. One of his arms was so badly injured that doctors had to amputate it. The attack fell one week after Aurora passed its Fighting Breed ban, but prior to its "effect" date.6
- (2007) Dorothy Rugg | On July 12, 2007, 63-year old Dorothy Rugg and her granddaughter, 20-year old Bobbi Mitchell of Aurora, were attacked by a family pit bull while visiting the home of Rugg's son. The dog was repeatedly stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife, but this failed to stop its violent assault.7
- (2008) On November 19, 2008, Chief U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel upheld the Aurora Fighting Breed ban. Daniel rejected arguments brought by the American Canine Foundation, a pit bull lobbying group, and Florence Vianzon Sasek including: Substantive Due Process, Equal Protection and Takings Claims.
In February 2020, there was another attempt to repeal Denver's longstanding pit bull ban. Links in this blog post have been updated to preserve the historical content in this post written in 2009.
In order of appearance: Jacob Brady, 16-months old (Fairview Beach, VA), Emily Stinnet, 4-years old (Hodgenville, KY), Amaya Hess, 4-years old (Indianapolis, IN), Annette Rojas, 8-years old (Santa Rosa, CA), Charlotte Blevins, 11-months old (Omaha, NE), Ciera Anyaso, 9-years old, (Joliet, IL), Danny Jones, 15-years old (Takoma Park, MD), Delany Williams, 6-years old (Pittsburg, CA), Destiny Campbell, 3-years old (New Castle County, PA), Ellie Lawrenson, 5-years old (Merseyside, UK), Erin Dickinson, 7-years old (Reading, PA), Gregg Jones Jr., 10-years old (Aurora, CO), Hannah Shreves, 3-years old (Fairmont, WV), Isis Krieger, 6-years old (Anchorage, AK), Jai-Quone Nelson, 7-years old (Baltimore, MD), Jayden Garrison, toddler (Baltimore, MD), Joshua Tanner Monk, 7-years old (Breckenridge, TX), Kamar Reynolds, 3-years old (Brooklyn, NY), Kasey Eyring, 7-years old (Baltimore, MD), Kiara Lynn, 19-years old (Waukegan, IL), Mattea Flanigan, child (Dothan, AL), Nicholas Scott Faibish, 12-years old, (San Francisco, CA), Nick Foley, 10-years old (Cary, IL), Rayvin Crawford, 3-years old (Indianapolis, IN), Ronnie Smithell III, 23-months old (Atkinson, PA), Scott Warren, 6-years old (Dallas, TX), Sean Bajwa, 11-years old (Surrey, CA), Seth Lovitt, 11-years old (Killeen, TX), Zachary King Jr., 7-years old (Minneapolis, MN), Zach McPhillips, 13-years old (Anula, AU) and Katie Jarman, 6-years old (Gulfport, MS)
2Elbert County is part of the Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area.
3The actual owner of the dog was a 17-year old who fled the scene, along with his pit bull, after the attack.
4This incident was included because the adoption occurred after the ban was revoked, whereby making the issue of "breed determination" moot.
5On October 24, 2005 the Aurora City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the "new" ownership 10 dog breeds with the genetic heritage of dogfighting.
6The boy's mother, Renee Muniz, was subsequently charged with felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury and misdemeanor reckless child abuse.
7Police officers shot the dog through the home's security door, shattering the door, while the dog was still inside. Officers shot the dog once more outside killing it.
02/23/23: Denver Dog Bite Statistics by Breed and Injury Severity (2017-2019)
02/19/20: Surprise, Surprise. Denver’s Pit Bull Ban has Always Been Controversial
02/17/20: Mayor of Denver Vetoes Pit Bull Ban Repeal, Slowing the Hasty Repeal Effort
I would like to thank the City of Denver for their efforts to alleviate their constituents of this unnecessary risk. Very clearly the courts have spoken and BSL is legitimate exercise of local government's police power to regulate the safety and welfare of its citizens. JOB WELL DONE DENVER!
I hope that every single city council member is sent a link to that video if this out of state group gets its way and has that brought up to a vote. They've done the right thing. They don't need to dial it back now. Not only are they saving human lives, they have vastly cut down on dog deaths, too. You'd think the pitiots would at least realize that, but they've proven time and again they live in a fantasy world.
The photos of the protest show a VERY sparse crowd. This does not appear to be the kind of gathering that would encourage a change in the law. Clearly the citizens of Denver are satisfied with their breed ban.
power to the people! 🙂
Excellent work DBO…The small nutter cell is probably led by a nearby Pit breeder salivating at the possibility of the Denver breeding market opening back up!
They sent a tsunami of 2500 plus Pits into Denver during the short time the ban wasn't enforced…
They'll have those rape stands going 24/7 if they get their way!
Of course the resultant maulings will be the owner's fault and the euthanizations by the truckload will be the city's fault!
Extremely funny…so this is the much ballyhooed "protest"? What, a dozen people? How many of those people are Denver residents?
I don't see why Denver would suddenly need to jump through hoops to accomodate what amounts to an incredibily small percentage of dog owners. I am guessing that the majority of law-abiding, tax-paying Denver residents don't mind the fact that pit bulls aren't welcome there.
One of the protesters was from Grand Junction. "Margaret Csikos of Grand Junction"
CBS4 did a story, "Opponents of Denver's ban on pit bulls, including many from other states, gathered Tuesday at the Denver City and County Building in an effort to get the ordinance overturned."
I think they got the "many" part wrong! Council member Carla Madison appeared. She's quite a looker.
Just one question…. part of the proposal to lift the ban includes strict regulations and requirements for pit bull owners. One requirement is the pit bull owners have a $100,000.000 liability insurance policy. This may sound crazy, but has anyone talked to the insurance companies about this?
Which insurance companies will be lining up to provide this benefit to pit bull owners? From what I understand, even the few companies who will write such a policy only will do it on a case by case basis. In many states, NO companies will insure a pit bull. What about Colorado?
Has anyone asked any of the people protesting whether or not they have that sort of coverage for their dog?
Quite the turn out in Denver
"Council member Carla Madison appeared. She's quite a looker."
She looks like a Lord of the RIngs extra.
I think the sticking point of lifting the ban, and adopting the new regulations, will be the ability of pit bull owners to get insurance. I did my own research on the net, and as far as I can tell, the majority of pit owners either are uninsured, have failed to disclose the breed of dog to their agent, or have lied about the breed of dog…for instance, calling it a "terrier mix". The discussion about adopting these new regulations to allow pit bulls in Denver should end right there….the group pushing to end the ban is being dishonest; they are trying to deceive the public by pretending that the pit bulls who will be allowed in Denver will be insured if they bite someone….but odds are they won't be.
Not only will many pit bull owners
not insure their dog they won't spay or neuter either. We see this time and time again across the country. This is a dog with thug and criminal breeders. I have a feeling Denver will not be turning back the clock. If their citizenry was really up in arms about the ban you would have see many more people at the protest. In my opinion it was a——- flop.
Most insurance companies no longer accept "mix" or "mutt" on an application. You either tell them what the dog is (and if you lie you have no coverage or they go after you for fraud) or they require a letter from the vet.
With this new health care plan of Obama, will this cover treating dog bite injuries? I mean everybody will get health insurance now right?
Even if a dog attack victim is treated for his/her wounds, it doesn't mean any plan…including a national healthcare plan…will pay for extensive plastic surgery. That is still seen as elective surgery, in most cases, unless the disfigurement prevents a person from performing activities of daily living…eating, walking, bathing, etc.
As for health care being "free," it is never free.
If national health does happen, the taxpayer will get put on the hook for treating very expensive pit bull bites
This will be yet another burden on the taxpayer thanks to breeders and dog fighters
All the more reason to ban them
Had it gone wrong, it would have been the child's fault, of course!
What a fantastic job you are doing with compiling all this data. I still think you should write a book. Maybe call it, "In the Pits" Or, "I Pittie the Fool" Or how about, "Wiggle Butt My A–"
We should all be grateful to Denverkillsdogs.com for proving how far out pit nutters are in the lunatic fringe. It is sad that depraved humans created this breed, but that doesn't mean we have to live with the monsters!
Down in Miami the Nutters are getting ready to sue the city over euthanizing an illegal Pit Bull that mauled a mail carrier. The kicker is that the dog was owned by a recividist felon with a criminal record a mile long.
They really want these breeding markets opened back up!
The nutters are claiming that Denver has the highest rate of hospitizations in the state despite having 5 of the 8 trauma centers in the state.
Last August, a Boulder boy sustained a 2000 stitch lifeflight mauling from a family pit. he was flown to Denver for treatment.
More on the Dorothy Rugg story:
"…he heard screams and saw a young woman running out of the house with a small child under one arm and a phone in her free hand. "She had blood on her hands and was pretty incoherent," said the neighbor, who helped tend the older woman who had been bitten to the bone and was slipping in and out of consciousness. When police arrived, they shot the dog in the head through a glass door and dragged the dog outside. Despite having been shot and having a kitchen knife still sticking into its body, the dog wasn't going down without a further fight, so the officers shot it a second time."