This year’s big decision has caused a lot of division among Americans, but there’s one thing that unites us more than anything: our love of dogs.
Dogs were a topic of discussion in multiple cities, and this year, people voted in favor of their pups.
In San Antonio, Texas, city officials were faced with a big decision last week regarding pet stores and the sale of dogs. Lawmakers proposed that pet stores be banned from selling dogs bred for profit, and instead, be restricted to offering only those obtained through rescue. The city hopes that this ordinance will help find homes for homeless dogs, and promote adoption rather than encouraging the breeding of dogs for profit.
There was further concern was that many of the pups for sale through pet stores come from puppy mills – where dogs are forced to breed litter after litter and puppies are often sold sick. Though there are responsible breeders out there, pet stores don’t always use them. Many pet stores are unaware of the conditions their pups were raised in. Others are just outright dishonest. Well-meaning people who only want a dog to love end up supporting puppy mills that they may not even know exist.
Pet stores, including Petland, which is often accused of knowingly selling puppy mill dogs, hired lobbyists to oppose the bill. Petland says that they vouch for the health of the pets they sell and ensure that every animal is examined by a vet.
Despite their arguments, the San Antonio city council voted in favor of the ordinance, which will go into effect on January 1, 2021. Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a dad to rescue dogs of his own, says he was proud to vote in favor of it.
“My family has been blessed by having, at this point, four dogs who have been previously abused by breeders and puppy mills. And so I have, for the last six years, been waiting for this.”
Another big decision was made for dogs last night in Denver, Colorado. 2020 has been a rollercoaster for breed legislation in Denver. In January, City Councilman Chris Herndon introduced a measure that would repeal the city’s decades-old Pit Bull ban. The ban has been in place for thirty years and was passed after a few unfortunate incidents gave city officials reason to believe that Pit Bulls may be dangerous. Lawmakers decided that it was too risky to allow Pit Bulls to live within their city. But in recent years, dog-lovers have been very vocal about misunderstood breeds. We, like many others, believe that there’s no such thing as a bad breed.
Councilman Herndon seems to think so, too. In January, he and the Denver city council voted to repeal the ban and allow ownership of Pit Bulls with special provisions. But the victory was short-lived. Mayor Michael B. Hancock immediately announced his intentions to veto the city council’s decision.
Denver citizens spoke up in favor of the new law, but Mayor Hancock announced on February 14th that he “could not in good conscience” support the legislation. It was the first time he had exercised his right to veto a decision in the three years since he was elected. The city council had the opportunity to overturn the mayor’s veto, but unfortunately, did not get the supermajority support they needed from their members to do so.
But the fight wasn’t over.
The council managed to get the measure on this year’s ballot. When Denver citizens cast their votes for their representatives, they were also able to weigh in on the decision whether to lift the Pit Bull ban or not.
With the decision in the hands of the people of Denver, the Pit Bull ban will be repealed on January 1st. It passed with the support of 64.5% of Denver’s voters. 35.5% voted to keep the ban.
The ban applies to American Staffordshire Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. Those wanting a Pit Bull breed to live in their home will be allowed to have up to two and will need to register with Denver Animal Protection and get a “breed-restricted” permit. If after three years there are no incidents reported, pet parents of Pit Bulls will be allowed to register their pups as usual.
“Pit Bulls” are overwhelmingly misunderstood dogs. In fact, “Pit Bull” is not a breed, but instead, refers to several breeds with similar appearances. Dog lovers know them to be affectionate, playful, and loyal, but these dogs have gotten a scary reputation with those who don’t know them.
Due to their loyalty, Pit Bulls are a favorite breed for dogfighters. They are raised from pups and rewarded for aggressive behavior – which is not typically their nature. Due to their bad reputation and an abundance of breeding, an estimated 1 million Pit Bulls are euthanized each year in the United States. But this decision gives new hope, that the attitude toward these dogs is changing, and that soon they may be welcome everywhere as beloved family members.
These decisions prove that power lies in the hands of the dog-loving people. You may have only a single vote to cast, and maybe you don’t live in these cities, but people like you are raising awareness about issues affecting dogs. You are reaching people who may not know about these problems through word of mouth, social media, and your support of your local rescues and shelters.
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By spreading awareness, you’re helping make this a better world for dogs.