After 15 years, pit bulls and other restricted breed dogs will be allowed within the city of Aurora. 

The Aurora City Council finalized changes to an ordinance last week that repeals a ban on pit bulls within city limits. Council approved the measure by a 7-3 vote.

In December, Councilwoman Allison Hiltz proposed an ordinance to lift the ban on pit bulls. Mayor Mike Coffman proposed an alternative ordinance that would have put the question before voters during the 2021 municipal election. It would have provided provisional permission to keep restricted breeds within the city, so long as owners microchipped their dog and complied with requirements outlined by the Aurora Animal Control Services Division. Council voted in favor of HIltz's proposal and rejected Coffman's proposal.

The city enacted the pit bull ban in 2005 under section 14-75 of the city code. The code was challenged in court as part of Am. Canine Foundation v. City of Aurora in 2009, at which time the 10th Circuit Court determined the city had a legitimate purpose in enacting a pit bull and restricted breed ban ordinance to protect the health and safety of the public. At that time, the city upheld the ordinance.

In 2011, Aurora City Council approved Ordinance 2011-11 amending the restricted breed ordinance by reducing the number of restricted breed dogs from 10 to three. In 2014, citizens of Aurora voted on a measure that essentially affirmed the city's decision to restrict certain breeds, including pit bulls, within the city.

In considering the repeal of the ban last year, Council noted that the ordinance is difficult to enforce due to the number of dogs that are hidden in the city. Council also noted that the city's animal services department has been removing animals that are included in the restricted breed ordinance but have not been aggressive, and have been unable to find them homes outside of the city. Aggressive or dangerous animals are now dealt with under a separate "dangerous dog" ordinance that addresses the actions committed by the dog rather than its breed, Council said.

Aurora joins several surrounding municipalities that have lifted breed-specific bans in recent months. Denver voters decided in November to lift the city's 30-year ban on pit bulls, and a 26-year ban on pit bulls was lifted two years ago in Castle Rock. Commerce City approved a similar measure this week.

Aurora's revised ordinance is expected to be effective in February.

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