Nearly 68% of Aurora voters endorsed pit bull ban
AURORA, Colorado––Advocates for pet, livestock, and human safety in Aurora, Colorado claimed a resounding win with the November 4, 2014 defeat of a well-funded attempt to repeal the nine-year-old Aurora pit bull bylaw.
Asked Aurora ballot question 2D, “KEEPING OF PIT BULLS––Shall the people of Aurora adopt an ordinance allowing pit bulls back into their city?”
Aurora sprawls over parts of Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas County. The ballot measure was rejected by 68.1% of the voters in Arapahoe County, 63.5% in Adams County, and 72.5% in Douglas County. Overall, 67.9% of Aurora voters, 51,878, approved the existing pit bull regulations. Just 24,519 voters endorsed repeal. About 55% of registered voters cast ballots, an unusually heavy turnout in a non-presidential election year.
What bylaw required
The Aurora bylaw required keepers of pit bulls already in the city and licensed as of 2005 to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance, less than the U.S. national average for homeowners, renters, and business owners; keep pit bulls confined within securely fenced and locked yards when allowed outdoors on the owner’s property; and keep pit bulls muzzled and on a four-foot leash when off the owner’s property.
The Aurora bylaw forbids introducing new pit bulls into the city.
The Aurora pit bull bylaw was passed five months after a pit bull mauled Xavier Benavidez, 11, in an unprovoked attack. Investigating the background to the attack and possible legislative approaches to preventing more such incidents, the Aurora city council learned that about 700 people had possessed pit bulls in the preceding several years whose existence had become known to law enforcement. Among those pit bulls, just 140––at most 20%––had ever been licensed.
A week after Aurora adopted the pit bull bylaw, but before it took effect, Aurora resident Gregg Jones, 10, was mauled by three of his family’s own pit bulls. Two of the three dogs were unlicensed.
Led by the local organization ColoRADogs, the campaign to repeal the Aurora pit bull bylaw was opposed by the leadership of the Aurora animal control division, but was funded and promoted by several national animal advocacy organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States.
A display ad published on the weekend ahead of the voting claimed the support of HSUS, the Centers for Disease Control, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, American Kennel Club, American SPCA, and American Bar Association.
But representatives of those organizations were little in evidence during the waning days of the campaign, as indications mounted that the repeal effort would not even win majority support from keepers of pet dogs and donors to humane causes.
Defending the Aurora regulations was Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education & Awareness, founded by Wisconsin disk jockey Jeff Borchardt.
Borchardt’s son Daxton “was killed on March 6, 2013 at 14 months of age by his babysitter’s two pit bulls,” Borchardt recounted to media. “The dogs were raised by the babysitter since they were puppies. They were raised in a loving environment, were spayed and neutered, and were well trained. There was no indication of neglect or abuse. A thorough police investigation concluded the babysitter did nothing wrong,” but “For no reason, the dogs started to attack her and ripped Daxton from her arms. She struggled with the dogs for 15 minutes to get Daxton back and call for help. Unfortunately, Daxton did not survive the attack.”
Borchardt lives in Wisconsin, but has family in Centennial, Colorado, near Aurora.
Daxton’s Friends published informational ads in both the Aurora Sentinel and Denver Post.
“After the ad ran,” reported Rachel Spain of the Aurora Sentinel, “an employee with the Denver Post’s advertising department asked Borchardt if he could revise the ad to make it ‘not so in your face’ going forward. In email correspondence obtained by the Sentinel, the employee wrote Borchardt that the Post had received ‘a ton of hate mail and complaints’ in response to it. Borchardt said Post advertising officials told him they would refuse the ad unless he modified it because of the complaints from pit-bull proponents.”
Denver Post advertising and sales director Carla Royter eventually agreed to publish the last two ads for which Daxton’s Friends had already paid, “adding language that identified them with political advertising.”
The ads included data on pit bull attacks researched and published by DogsBite.org and ANIMALS 24-7.
Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry had outspokenly supported the Aurora pit bull regulations from the beginning of the repeal campaign.
More public votes?
Predicted Kristen Wyatt of Associated Press after the election results were in, “Aurora’s proposal to repeal its 9-year ban on pit bulls, the first in the nation on a general-election ballot, could presage other public votes on so-called ‘breed-specific legislation,’ laws that either ban some types of dogs or require they be sterilized. Aurora officials sent the question to voters after years of fielding complaints that its pit bull ban is unfair and punishes dogs instead of negligent owners.
ColoRADogs pledged on Facebook to continue efforts to repeal the Aurora pit bull regulations, and to fight similar regulations nationwide, likening the effort to seeking equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. But the political momentum on pit bulls may have shifted, after pit bull advocates won laws prohibiting breed-specific legislation in 19 states, even as pit bull attacks on other animals more than doubled and disfiguring or fatal pit bull attacks on humans tripled in less than ten years.
Attacks by pit bulls from animal shelters increased even more rapidly. There were 32 disfiguring or fatal maulings by shelter dogs from 1859 through 2009, 19 of them involving pit bulls. From 2010 to present, there have been 122 disfiguring maulings by shelter dogs, 80 of them involving pit bulls. In 2014 alone, 33 shelter dogs have killed or disfigured someone; 26 were pit bulls.
Attacks by pit bulls rehomed by the Longmont Humane Society, located near Aurora, made headlines in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2013 the Longmont Humane Society became the first humane organization known to have been fined for allowing a dangerous dog to run amok.
The Aurora decision was not the only resounding defeat for pit bull advocates on November 4, 2014. Running as an independent against incumbent Bill Sample in Arkansas state senate district 14, George Pritchett of Hot Springs drew just 28% of the vote. Pritchett had prominently opposed a Garland County dangerous dog ordinance adopted in July 2013.
Aurora echoed Miami
The Aurora results echoed the outcome of an also well-funded and aggressively promoted ballot measure meant to repeal the then-23-year-old Miami-Dade County pit bull ban in August 2012. The Miami repeal measure attracted just 37% voter support. About 20% of the eligible electorate cast ballots.
Before Aurora, the Miami outcome was the most lopsided failure of a ballot measure endorsed by major national humane organizations in 70 years.
The Best Friends Animal Society in March 2012 began airing radio ads in opposition to the Miami-Dade pit bull ban. Silent on the Aurora ballot measure, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle and Mike Markarian, president of the HSUS subsidiary Humane Society Legislative Fund, both blogged in favor of repealing the Miami ban. The Miami Herald also endorsed repealing it.
A week before the Miami-Dade voting the American Bar Association passed a resolution “Urging Adoption of Breed-Neutral Dog Laws and the Repeal of Breed Discriminatory (Pit Bull) Ordinances.” The resolution was avidly publicized by pit bull enthusiasts, both in Miami-Dade in 2012 and in Aurora in 2014.
Unlike in Aurora, there was no organized opposition to the proposed Miami-Dade pit bull ban repeal. No celebrities spoke in favor of keeping the Miami-Dade ban–only a few local pit bull victims, including Melissa Moreira, 31, who at age 8 was facially scarred for life in an unprovoked pit bull attack in the driveway of her family’s home.
The Miami pit bull ban was adopted soon after the Moreira attack, just ahead of the 1990 passage of a Florida state law prohibiting new breed-specific legislation, which exempted Miami-Dade.
Attempts to ban pit bulls from Miami-Dade had begun in 1945, after Doretta Zinke, 39, was killed during an evening walk by nine pit bulls kept by Joe Munn, 43, of Hialeah. Twenty-six pit bulls, some implicated in previous attacks on humans, were impounded from Munn and killed.
Even in 1945 there was organized pit bull advocacy, led in part by the American Humane Association and actress Delores Del Rio, and the advocates turned out in force. The Humane Society of Greater Miami, which then held the Miami-Dade animal control contract, claimed to have received hundreds of calls of protest from pit bull advocates throughout the U.S.–an almost unheard of response at a time when long-distance calls were costly and had to be manually connected by an operator.
Munn served one year of a five-year prison sentence for manslaughter. Paroled, Munn acquired more pit bulls. Two of them in 1955 mauled Harry Smalley, 73, after attacking Smalley’s dog. But another 35 years of deliberation elapsed, while many other pit bulls killed and injured animals and humans, before the Moreira attack finally tipped the Miami-Dade political balance against the pit bull advocates, who ranged from the Humane Society of Greater Miami to advocates of legalizing dogfights and segregationist splinter groups associated with the Ku Klux Klan.
Please donate to support our work:
Molly T says
Awesome job voters of Aurora! Thank you Merritt for covering this issue. I am so tired of seeing pit bulls creep into my nice little town and even my upscale neighborhood. I will be forwarding this vote information to my local representative. The simple message is that yes, publicly, it may seem that the well-organized, aggressive pit advocates are the majority but privately, 2/3 of the general public does not want these types of dogs in their towns, neighborhoods, or God-forbid, living next door.
Thank you ANIMALS 24/7 and thank you Daxton’s Friends for canine education.
Who knows what would of happened without the efforts of these wonderful organizations. You are saving lives of humans, pets, and overbred pitbulls that would be euthanized or used in fighting. Thank you!
Sharon Yildiz says
I echo what Bigbill said. Thanks to Jeff and Daxton’s Friends for educating the Aurora public about the dangers of allowing fighting dogs to be in homes and public places, and to Animals 24/7 for keeping us all up to date on pit bull issues, among many others. Thanks to both of you!
Jamaka Petzak says
Thank god reason and logic prevailed in Aurora. May it also win over ignorance and political correctness nationwide.
“ColoRADogs pledged on Facebook to continue efforts to repeal the Aurora pit bull regulations, and to fight similar regulations nationwide, likening the effort to seeking equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgender people”
The saddest thing is that it is PIT BULL BREEDERS AND DOG FIGHTERS that manipulated people like the people who run ColoRAdogs (I think the main person is Nancy Tranzow) into using this disgusting and repellently false linking to try to trick people and emotionally use them.
Breeders have tried this trick before..
Pit bulls are not people. They are man-created breeds of canine, intentionally bred by primarily male humans, to kill and maim. They are fighting breeds, purposely bred by the breeding industry, who could stop their breeding tomorrow if they chose and stop the harm both to the public and the exploited fighting breeds. But then they wouild lose money,.and dog fighting would end..
Money is what this is all about.
Using gay rights as a manipulative shield for the financial interests of DOG fighters and DOG breeders is the worst kind of smear and disrespect to the gay community that could be imagined.
Nancy Tranzow owes an apology to the entire gay community of the United States for these repellent propaganda tricks, and for allowing herself to be used by the breding industry to front this propaganda.
One thing that came out of this Aurora activity which is positive is that more was discovered about the front groups that represent the pit bull industry and their political manoevering, and of course they are BREEDERS hiding money interests behind the false advocacy banner. It includes the AKC who have been behind pit bull advocacy since the early days on behalf of breeder financial interests.
When Nancy Tranzow of ColoRAdogs uses the term “Responsible Dog Ownership” line in her propaganda, that is the flag term for breeder financial interests. The very first pit bull advocacy front groups were breeders that hid their financial interests behind the names like “Responsible Dog Owners” groups..
AKC holds “Responsible Dog Owner” events which are lobbying events for breeder financial interests- opposing regulation, protecting dangerous breeds, propaganda campaigns, etc
The word “owner” that the breeders use is significant. The AKC admitted directly in an interview with Mike Fry that breeders perceive dogs as OWNED PROPERTY, and that no one has the right to tell them what to do with their owned property. In other words, that breeders somehow have the right to be a completely unregulated industry and can do whatever they want without any say from anyone else, including regulation.
The word “responsible” is also politically significant to these breeders. “Responsible” is used as the vague, meaningless, catch it all term that can be touted as an alternative to regulation without any substance behind it and without any behavior changes or financial deteriment to the breeders.
For years, breeders said that no laws shouild be made to regulate puppy mills that of course they have a vested interest in. Instead, the breeder lobby touted as an alternative to laws some kind of vague “education” about “responsible” dog care. MEANINGLESS It was just a distraction. The breeders know that without laws, nothing changes, and they can keep doing whatever they want to do and keep making money, and just blame everyone else for a lack of “education” so that nothing changes and the same problems continue.
While they keep cashing in and being as irresponsible as you can get, but blaming others
But it wasn’t hard to guess just from the political buzz words who Nancy Tranzow of ColoRAdogs took direction from. There was the AKC signing on with her group in public. The AVMA has tight connections with the AKC and related breeder lobbying.
This industry http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Kennel_Club of which pit bulls are just one of their businesses (along with puppy mills) and one of their lobbying interests which they pursue with other breeder front groups.
The breeders only have one interest and that is making money from these dogs. They wanted to turn Aurora back into a battlefield so that breeders could make money from pit bulls in Aurora and everyone else would pay for it- with their lives and limbs, with their animals’ lives, with the shelters crowded once again with abandoned pit bulls originating from the breeders, with animal control spending most of its time and money fielding pit bull problem complaints, with the costs of police and first responders handling pit bull incidents, with the huge health care costs for victims, and the civil right losses from people unable to be in their yard or in a public place because of attack threats.
Those are only some of the ways that the people of Aurora would pay if they let the pit bull industry back in, and the pit bulls themselves would suffer as the subjects of the profiteering.
That is why it is not acceptable that groups like HSUS and ASPCA are involved with breeders and helping the breeders exploit these dogs, and hurt people and their pets and livestock.
All the political posturing and manipulative posing don’t hide the fact that pit bull advocacy is breeder advocacy, and everyone loses (even the pit bulls) except the breeders themselves who smirk all the way to the bank.
Nancy Tranzow says
First let me correct that this was by no means a “well funded” campaign. As financial reports come out, that will be obvious.
Secondly, I did not compare BSL to LGBT rights. I AM a lesbian so your cry for me to apologize to the LGBT community is pretty ridiculous. I said I have worked for LGBT rights for years. Not quite the same, and clearly taken out of context. So as for your indignant assertions regarding apologies to the gay community. You might want to address the homophobia within your own ranks.
I do not work for breeders nor dog fighters and I think we all know when we actually look at reality there are no dog fighting lobbies. It’s a pretty ludicrous assertion on any realistic level.
Merritt Clifton says
“Well funded” is of course relative––and in that light, the campaign to repeal the Aurora pit bull ordinance was able to purchase considerably larger ads, using more color, than the campaign to defend it.
Whether pit bull advocates “work for” breeders and dogfighters, encouraging pit bull proliferation is promoting their interests.
Nancy, you represent the interests of pit bull breeders and dog fighters, and those constituents of yours are angrily spewing their venom after your loss online about their intent to keep up their pit bull breeding and sales activities.
They, unlike you, are quite honest about why they are involved in pit bull advocacy and they refer to you as representing their interests.
Every piece of propaganda that you cut and paste is from the dog breeder and dog fighting lobby. They made up these lies a long time ago to shield themselves so they could prey on the breeds and keep profiting. . New puppets that simply repeat the same propaganda don’t distance from that.
The only thing that you have been doing is promotion of pit bulls like a product on a shelf, with the resulting mass and unregulated overbreeding and sale to people who cannot handle these dogs by telling consumers things that aren’t true to encourage them to buy
Of course when they encounter the truth, they abandon these dogs like litter and the shelters keep filling up with more pit bulls…
You’ve only increased the number of dead pit bulls through your self-described “advocacy.”
. Pit bull advocacy props up and expands that industry and everything you have done has been detrimental first of all to the pit bulls themselves. You are standing on a mountain of their bodies and you are making the mountain higher every day that you engage in this business lobbying.
The Doretta Zinke attack in 1945 is an example of how pit bull advocacy originated, and it wasn’t with “animal rights” people.
At that time and for decades after, breeders (or veterinarians related to the breeding industry) were often in control of animal control departments and shelters and humane groups.
They represented themselves to the local governments and public as “experts” but their unfortunate main concern was in keeping dog issues “in the pocket.” In other words, keeping control of the direction of lawmaking and regulation and enforcement. Opposing laws, protecting their friends from enforcement, and controlling the entire issue to protect profit..
At that time in the 1940s, the Humane Society of Greater Miami (like many other similar local and national animal organizations) was composed of many area dog breeders, and breeding industry influence on the organization was strong. Many people in the area complained about the lack of real animal welfare activity by this organization, and that was mirrored by similar complaints about organizations across the US that supposedly had the goal of addressing animal cruelty and related issues, but in actuality shielded it on behalf of the breeders.
The American Humane Association was another group widely criticized by people who had true interests in animal welfare. They felt that AHA did nothing to address and expose the real sources of the problems and had too much breeder industry influence guiding their operations. Some still are making these complaints..
The dog breeding industry in the Zinke attack used feel-good and false animal welfare fronts to fend off regulation, and other breeder groups across the US joined in, as they do now..
The breeders weren’t looking out for the animals’ or the public’s interests.through these front organizations. They were looking out for the breeding industry FINANCIAL interests. Joe Munn was a dog breeder.
Failures to address issues like cruelty, dog fighting, and puppy mills in these organizations and the breeder-controlled animal services sector was in part what created the demand in the 1970s and 1980s for animal rights. Smaller grass-roots groups emerged (such as Friends of Animals in NJ) that were very vocal about cruelty and abuses (such as puppy mills and dog fighting) while the larger, breeder-controlled and influenced organizations were silent. These grass roots animal rights and welfare groups were very critical of these larger organizations that fronted financial interests.
At first, the breeders weren’t worried. These grassroots groups were small, had little funding and exposure, and the breeders thought they could just pound them back down by labeling them “extremists” or by harassing them into silence, or using local government connections to threaten them.
Starting in the 1980s and into the 1990s saw an increase of people influenced by the grassroots groups with real animal welfare or animal rights interests speaking up and moving in to take control of the silent humane organizations and animal control.
Suddenly in many areas, and nationally, there was exposure and an increase in demand for better laws, better regulation, stronger enforcement. More cruelty arrests were happening, more puppy mills getting exposed and busted, more dog fighting also was getting exposed and busted
The breeding industry went nuts! It was getting out of their control and exposing their negative activities, and inspiring laws and regulations.
In the early 2000s the breeders sought a way to get control back of humane organizations and animal control departments, and fend off the demands for regulation. They hired lobbyists like Rick Berman to organize propaganda attacks and .schemes to insinuate themselves back into control of humane groups and animal control departments
Solution. They hijacked the fledgling No Kill movement and “moved in for the kill.
Using as cover some No Kill people who had an interest in animal rights and welfare but were deceived, the breeders altered the direction of No Kill from addressing overpopulation and spay neuter issues (and related lack of breeder regulation) into a breeder-friendly and dominated lobby that instead blamed real animal welfare people and spread myths and lies to hide the problems.
Thus a breeder lobby like the AKC breeder dominated NAIA http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=National_Animal_Interest_Alliance who invented the “overpopulation is a myth” lie to protect breeders from regulation morphed into people like Nathan Winograd repeating the same propaganda. If NAIA did it, they were breeders and their financial interests were easily uncovered. If they could put distance between the breeding industry and the lobbyist, it could be easier to hide those interests and pursue their goals of fending off regulation and hiding their responsibility
We now have breeders using No Kill as a pathway back into control of animal control departments and humane groups, and we see again a return to the abuse and problems of the past, where financial interests trumped public safety AND humane treatment of animals.
No Kill is used as an adjunct in pit bull advocacy likewise to pose as humane interest, but actually to further the financial interests of pit bull breeders and manipulate and trick people who care about animal welfare.
Yet another related tactic is for breeders to pose as concerned about pit bull problems and insert themselves into victim advocacy groups and forums, and wind their way into control of the conversation. Guide others into placing the entire blame on humane organizations and animal control, while eliminating the discussion of breeder control and motivation and financing of pit bull lobbying. Selling breeder lobbying with a smiling and apparently sympathetic face, particularly to people who they feel carry some influence
We’ve seen that with the tag team posting on some victim advocacy boards- breeders who at first appear to be concerned about pit bull violence issues, who then insinuate breeder friendly propaganda to try to diminish the issues, and then join in collusion with pit bull advocates not just in guiding the conversation and controlling it, but attacking those who question them or expose their influences.
Wherever there is money at stake, commercial business industries of all kinds have proven that they will do and say anything it takes to attain their goals, and they have phalanxes of followers across the country to participate.. The dog breeder business lobby does the same thing
We are going back to the bad old days, and only time will tell how far down we slide.
As far as Tranzow of Coloradog using the CDC as a reference, there already was several years ago an expose of how dog breeder influences on the CDC affected their change in direction to a dog breed protection policy and away from public health and safety.
One of those dog breeders on the CDC at the time that policy changed was from Stone Mountain Georgia, a small place to be sure but significant in the world of the pit bull industry if anyone cares to research it.
Can you please elaborate on the statement that the CDC was influenced by animal industry stakeholders? I attempted to FOIA information about what led to the CDC’s current policy, and I was told that my request was “too broad.” Having names and, if possible, even a rough idea of dates would help immensely. Thank you.
Speaking of the AVMA, I just saw the AVMA’s latest sleight of hand after the Aurora vote.
The AVMA is run primarily by factory farm connected agriculture lobby vets, which includes breeders, All you need to read is just one of the AVMA’s statements as follows: “The AVMA continues to partner with animal agriculture stakeholders to educate federal agencies on” and then fill in the blanks with the support of dangerous and cruel practices…
Financial interests of those partner stakeholders are the AVMA’s interests, and the organization is used to pose falsely as a nonprofit and as unbiased “experts” and do business lobbying for animal agriculture in all its forms. It is a terrible deception.
Dog breeders are one stakeholder in the animal agriculture lobby, and the AKC and other dog breeder industry partners of the AVMA lobby through and with the agriculture industry.
Animal agriculture stakeholders hire Rick Berman as a lobbyist and oppose any kind of regulation. They oppose animal cruelty laws, and support the worst of dangerous activity, such as the use of downer cows that poison the food supply and factory farm techniques that increase disease and things like e coli contamination of meat. That is just to start…
Pit bull lobbying is just another dangerous arm of AVMA and agriculture partner lobbying.
Public safety and humane treatment of animals is in direct opposition to the interests of the AVMA and their animal agriculture stakeholder associates and PARTNERS..
Now, after Aurora, AKC is pulling a ridiculous ploy to pretend to be asking for public input on the pit bull issue on their Facebook page. AVMA, needless to say, supports the pit bull industry and opposes regulation.
Of course, 99.9 percent of the American population will never have any idea that the AVMA is asking for this input, and will never see it. or be able to voice their opinions.
Even if they did, the “expert” lobbyists at the AVMA with licenses would overrule them anyway.
The AVMA will, with this ridiculous pretense, spread links to their fellow animal agriculture stakeholders (including the dog breeder and dog fighter/pit bull advocacy lobbies) who will all organize like frenzied gnats to post support for pit bulls with AVMA.
Then the AVMA will claim that they received some sort of widespread approval of their pit bull policy.
It is a sham and a facade to create an illusion to trick people, and most important of all, to trick the government leaders that they already influence, and the media too.
So be prepared for the usual suspects in another dangerous ploy to deceive, and pursue the neverending game of business lobbying for financial interests.
The American public will pay dearly for it though, as they have been all along.
Nancy Tranzow, you are also affiliated with CHAKO in California and ship in pit bull puppies from their constituency to sell in Colorado for a Halloween sales promotion, and you tried unsucessfully to address that issue when it was revealed.
CHAKO is tightly involved with pit bull breeders, and even creates propaganda videos using those breeders’ dogs in the videos.
As far as your assertion that there are no dog fighter lobbies, dog fighters have been lobbying for a long time in this country and have a large wealth of publication and their own words about their activities to document this.
Some of this lobbying has been through agribusiness lobbying.
But dog fighters also engage in lobbying with general breeder lobbies,. and lie and pretend they are “dog experts” as they lobby to protect the financial interests of dog fighters.
So many “experts” giving information about pit bulls, aren’t there?