Group launches Web site, buys billboards saying 'Denver kills
Peter Marcus, DDN Staff Writer
Thursday, December 25, 2008
MILITARY TO THE RESCUE — Army Staff Sgt. Heidi J. Tufto had to
have her pit bull, Lumpy, left, flown by military helicopter to
Oregon after Lumpy was seized in Denver. Tufto's other dog, Nigel,
is to the right. Nigel is not a pit bull. Photos courtesy of
Denver kills dogs.
That's the message being spread by ROVERlution, a
California-based group working to overturn breed-specific
legislation in cities like Denver. The Mile High City in May 2005
placed a ban on pit bulls, which has resulted in a backlash from dog
lovers across the globe and hundreds of dead dogs.
A new Web site, DenverKillsDogs.com, and companion billboards
across the city aim at informing the public that Denver is currently
killing family dogs, according to backers of the campaign. The Web
site features an image of a fireplace with photos of pit bulls and
their families plastered across the mantel.
"Denver wants family dogs executed or exiled," states the Web
The billboards ask, "Which dog will Denver kill next?" and
feature a baby rolling on the floor with an adorable looking pit
bull. The idea is to motivate people to continue hammering city
officials to repeal the breed ban. The posters can be found at the
Pepsi Center, the Convention Center and at Coors
In fact, Denver had killed 1,918 pit bulls as of October
since the breed ban was reenacted. David Edelstein, founder of
ROVERlution, said as many as 3,100 pit bulls may have been killed
when taking into account private shelters that are contracted by the
city when city shelters are full.
Animal Control Director Doug Kelley could not say yesterday
with any certainty that the ban on pit bulls has made Denver a safer
"It's a hard question to answer," Kelley told the Denver
Daily News. "We have not had a severe mauling or fatality involving
a pit bull since its gone into effect. But then again, we continue
to get more pit bulls every year … it depends on how you define
There has actually not been a serious pit bull attack in
Denver since the 1989 mauling of Rev. Wilbur Billingsley, who was
left with more than 70 bites and two broken legs. The incident
resulted in the City Council banning pit bulls from the city. In
2004, Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill prohibiting local municipalities
from enacting breed-specific legislation. Denver challenged the
statute and enforcement resumed in May 2005.
That year, the city impounded 1,011 pit bulls; in 2006, 952;
2007, 459; 2008, 315. Kelley added, however, that there's likely
hundreds of others throughout the city. Animal Control usually does
not know about a pit bull in the city until a neighbor
Hoping to change the world
ROVERlution is hoping to convince the public that pit bulls
have gotten a bad name because of negative media coverage and
"We're not trying to burn anyone at the stake," said
Edelstein. "What we're trying to do is bring about positive
Edelstein rescued Forrest the dog back in August after the
pit bull was picked up twice and subsequently condemned to death.
The story made national headlines because Forrest did not actually
live in Denver, but instead wandered away from his Adams County yard
and across city lines into Denver. Since the Forrest incident,
Animal Control has changed its policy to work with rescue groups to
find a safe home for pit bulls picked up twice. The dogs must leave
the state to be trusted with a new owner.
The tidal wave of pit bull negativity, however, could be
turning on the national level. Take "Sports Illustrated," for
example. In 1987 the magazine ran a cover photo of a vicious pit
bull with the headline, "Beware of this dog." But the magazine's
Christmas Eve issue features a cute photo of Sweet Jasmine, one of
the pit bulls rescued from former Atlanta Falcons quarterback
Michael Vick's dog fighting operation.
Meanwhile, Army Staff Sgt.
Heidi J. Tufto is focusing solely at the local level. She was left
with a bad taste in her mouth about Denver politics when in 2001,
just days after moving to Denver, a white van rolled up on her while
she was walking her pit bull, Lumpy, and two other dogs in
As animal control officers
grabbed Lumpy's leash, allowing Tufto's other two dogs to run loose
into traffic around the park, Denver police officers rushed to the
scene to assist. With guns drawn, Tufto was ordered to the ground.
Lumpy was thrown in the van and driven away.
Tufto is used to guns and
violence — she dealt with it all the time serving America in Iraq —
but she couldn't handle watching her beloved Lumpy taken from her
grasp. Lumpy happens to be a certified therapy dog and an American
Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen.
immigrant from Germany who witnessed the incident equated it to the
"gestapo," said Tufto.
Lumpy was saved — flown to
Oregon on a CH-47 Chinook military helicopter.
But Tufto remains bitter, wanting desperately to change the
minds of city officials.
"What citizens want is an effective piece of legislation to
protect everyone and that's proven to work," she said, pointing to
cities that have beefed-up their dangerous dog ordinances to hold
dog owners both criminally and civilly liable.
Kelley himself agreed that on a personal level he would like
to see more stringent dangerous dog ordinances. He said before
overturning the ban, city officials would first need to look at that
aspect of its code.
Sonya Dias, lead proponent
in Denver for overturning the ban, said she has been fighting for
three and a half years to have officials hold owners responsible
over their dogs. While she has found herself pinned up against
several walls during the fight — including a complicated lawsuit to
overturn the ordinance — she promises to never stop
In fact, Dias is in the
process of launching a new campaign that will reward towns and
cities like Lakewood and Englewood for choosing not to impose
breed-specific legislation. The campaign will bring veterinarians
into the municipalities to spay and neuter pit bulls that have
graciously been allowed to live and breathe.
"For some reason, I just
keep going and don't stop, I don't know why," she said. "I
may change my direction, but I won't stop."
View Fox TV news
story about the Denver Pit Bull
Vet Warns Dog
Owners: STAY OUT OF DENVER
Great article in the December 29, 2008 issue of Sports
Illustrated by Jim Gorant entitled "What Happened to Michael Vick's
Dogs . . ." Check it out http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/magazine/12/22/vick.dogs/index.html.
Abopt a shelter animal: President-elect
Obama did! See a video about their new dog!
Please sign the petition to boycott Denver by clicking on one
of the next 6 images:
Please donate to help keep these posters displayed in
and BSL Denver
Run Forest Run
Bull Saves Woman and Child Alleged
Pit Bull Ordered Exexuted
Please cross post this link by the Animal Law
Coalition - website of Laura Allen, an animal-law
attorney. Another great ally in the fight against BSL
Bulldog Checkbook Cover
Boxer Dog Checkbook Cover
Scottie Checkbook Cover
no Pit Bull checks available
This site hosted by>
LINKS Scrub The
"Changing the Way that the
World Looks at the