Sorry, I can't find a link! I got this emailed to me, but I will continue to look for it. It's from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. This guy has written several articles on the breed ban in the past, including the story about the dog I helped get off death row (Sherman) who he continues to talk about here. I'm glad he's continuing to keep the subject in public view and be a positive voice in the media.
I am way too soft a touch when it comes to dogs. Please do not tell my wife, though, as she will most certainly allow our fleabag even more complete run of our home. Little is more sacrosanct, if you ask me, than the relationship between a man or a woman and his or her dog. Which is why the number 1,072 is going to keep me up tonight. One thousand seventy-two, you ought to know, is the number of pit bulls the City and County of Denver has put to death as of this writing, after it resumed its ban on the breed almost a year ago. I think of that number and see only 1,072 dead dogs - times whatever the number of men, women and children who truly loved them, whose sorrow and only sin is that they chose this one dusty spot on the Colorado plains to raise and care for their pit bull.
I know this tally, too, only because of Sheryl White, whose battle with the city over her pit mix, Sherman, I have written about at least a couple of times before. The number would have been 1,073 had Sheryl White just caved in, simply allowed and not fought - at considerable personal cost - Sherman's confiscation last December by city animal control officers. The last time we spoke, she had packed up her Denver home and gone on the lam with Sherman. She'd managed to bail him out of pit bull death row, and launched a full-court press to find a place that was safe for Sherman. She ultimately landed in Greenwood Village, leaving her longtime Denver home, her neighbors and friends behind, just so her dog would not have to die.
There was, however, the matter of the court summons on a charge of having a pit bull in the City and County of Denver that animal control officers issued Dec. 15 when they came for Sherman. There was never any question in her mind about what she would do. "I asked for a jury trial," Sheryl White said. "The only other options were to plead guilty or 'no contest.' I was not going to do either. The only thing to do was to plead innocent, which Sherman truly was."
She knew since Dec. 15, when animal control told her they could not release Sherman until officers filled out a questionnaire, that the city would rely on a visual determination that her dog was a pit bull. But Sherman, she said, is in fact likely more Rottweiler than pit bull. And she would use this against the city. How could they possibly know? "They use just observation, no scientific means at all," Sheryl White said. "They just look to see if he might be one or not." So when she showed up in court March 21 and demanded a jury trial, she says, court workers appeared stunned. "He is a mix of Rottweiler and pit bull, not a full breed," Sheryl White explained. "I knew they were just guessing, but I wanted them to prove with certainty that he was what they said he was." The prosecutor, she said, almost immediately moved to dismiss the charge. "Her parting shot to me," Sheryl White said, "was that if Sherman was ever caught again in the city of Denver, he would be euthanized. "I just told her she didn't have to worry about me, that I am done with Denver."
Doug Kelley, director of Denver Animal Control, confirmed the number of pit bulls put to death since the May 9 resumption of the ban at 1,072, of 1,260 impounded. The city, he said, has been bombarded by claims similar to Sheryl White's. He said that after an animal control officer makes a determination that a dog is a pit bull, that decision is cross-checked by three experts. If their judgment is not unanimous, an independent judge is brought in to make yet another evaluation. His or her decision, Doug Kelley said, can be appealed to Denver District Court. He said 95 percent of dog owners ask for the three-step evaluation. "There are a lot of fail-safes in the system," he said. Sheryl White today is elated by her win in court.
It is a jubilation tempered by the realization that she can never go home again, that she will always feel something like a criminal in Denver. "Sherman and I, though, are living happily ever after in Greenwood Village. He is such a happy dog, very well-behaved, the biggest lap dog in the world." But she says she gets stares every day when she walks Sherman in the dog park near her apartment. "People are always looking at me and Sherman, ready to run for their lives." As hard as saving Sherman was, Sheryl White says she hasn't a single regret. "I would have never known how strong I am, or known you can stand up and say that what they are doing is not right or fair."
Bill Johnson's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Call him at 303-892-2763 or e-mail him at johnsonw@RockyMountainNews.com
Here is the link: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/n ... 96,00.html
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