CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The Castle Rock town council will host a final hearing Tuesday to decide whether it wants to do away with a breed ban that limits the types of dogs that can live there.
Currently, Castle Rock prohibits American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and the Staffordshire bull terrier breeds.
The town’s legal office has proposed a move away from a breed ban and toward a two-tier system.
The system would be based on an individual dog’s behavior rather than its breed. This would allow Castle Rock to treat the dogs and their owners on a case-by-case basis.
The first tier would be for dogs that are determined to be dangerous. These are dogs that have caused serious bodily injury to someone or that show behavior that might have hurt a person if someone didn’t intervene.
Dogs that were previously determined to be potentially dangerous and whose owners have not followed steps mandated by the town council, such as registering for a potentially dangerous animal permit, would also fall under the first tier. Dogs that have been involved in or trained to participate in animal fights would also fall under this tier as would dogs that are determined to pose a threat to public safety.
The dogs that fall under the first tier would be removed from town limits or euthanized.
The second tier would be for potentially dangerous dogs. These are dogs that have injured a person or domestic animal but the injury was not serious. Dogs that are aggressive or menacing without being provoked also fall under this category.
These potentially dangerous dogs would need to be registered with the city and the owners would need to obtain a permit for them. The town council and its law enforcement would then monitor the dog’s behavior. The town would also have the right to make rules for the dogs, such as making them wear a muzzle in public, determining the length of the leash the dog is allowed to be on, or mandating behavioral modification courses.
These second-tier dogs would be allowed to stay in the town if the owner follows the rules and the dogs don’t hurt anyone.
During a March town council meeting, the assistant attorney for Castle Rock said her office has been studying the idea closely.
“We are not aware of any scientific or peer review data that would suggest the community is safer on a breed-specific ban or that a community is less safe without a breed-specific ban. We simply do not have the data, nor are we aware of any scientifically-reviewed article that would support those propositions,” Heidi Hugdahl said.
While her office hasn’t found any specific benefits from a breed ban, she told the town council she has found negative consequences.
“You may have situations where individuals go underground with their dogs, they don't socialize their dogs, they don't exercise their dogs. They may not get their dogs rabies vaccinations, they may be reticent to take it to the vet,” Hugdahl said.
The Castle Rock town council will vote at its meeting Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on whether to approve the plan to move away from a breed ban.