Gov. Bill Owens signed a statewide law prohibiting laws that
regulate dangerous dogs by targeting a specific breed.
House Bill 1279 holds owners liable the first time their dog
attacks and injures someone. The victim can file a civil suit to
get monetary damages against the dog owner or the owner’s insurance
company. If the owner is proven to have knowledge of the dog’s
viciousness or dangerous tendencies, the victim can request that
the dog be euthanized at the owner’s expense.
“It gets rid of the first-bite-free rule,” said Rep. Bob
McCluskey is a supporter of the bill.
“We felt insurance should pay, even on the first bite,”
McCluskey said the bill is a step in the right direction in
response to the problem of dog attacks. Dogs that are trained for
protection are dangerous, especially in urban settings, McCluskey
He said testimony was given to the Colorado House agriculture,
livestock and natural resources committee, in which incidents of
reported attacks were broken down.
“There were dispersions among different breeds,” McCluskey
The numbers for pit bulls were not too far from other breeds
such as Dobermans and Rottweilers. Pit bulls have a stereotype for
being the dangerous breed, McCluskey said.
The lawsuit is not directly about the dogs. It is also
addressing the issue that the state is crossing into a city’s
“It is not an issue that comes up every day, at least not in the
city of Fort Collins,” said Ingrid Decker, Fort Collins assistant
Fort Collins is not interested in a lawsuit against the recent
bill, because the city does not have a ban against a particular
breed. The city only has restrictions on vicious animals.
Since there has not been a restriction on pit bulls, Nick
Phillips, a Front Range Community College student, is not breaking
any laws by owning two happy pit-bull puppies. Trouble is a
6-month-old male Beam bull and Mugsy is a 4-month-old female pit
Phillips and one of his friends plan on starting a pit-bull
kennel in the near future.
“Our kennel will provide non-aggressive (pit bulls),” Phillips
said. “We will focus on temperament, so the dogs can be in any
situation and won’t freak out.”
Phillips said when pit bulls are trained for protection
purposes, if they become uneasy they are more likely to attack.
When people usually find out that Phillips has pit bulls, they
step away until they interact with the dogs.
“They are the most friendly dogs in the world,” Phillips
Phillips did not always embrace the breed. The negative
stereotypes about pit bulls being mean and dangerous dogs made him
apprehensive about interacting with them. After interacting with
friends’ pit bulls, however, Phillips decided to get some.
Phillips’ parents were not excited about his investment in the
“My parents gave me crap when I got the dogs,” Phillips said.
“Once they met (the dogs), they fell in love with them.”
Kelli Pearson, sophomore speech communication major, used to
have a fear of pit bulls because of the negative portrayals of
them. After interacting with friendly pit bulls, Pearson has
changed her views of the breed. She believes dogs can be trained to
“I love them to death,” Pearson said.
Deaths and injuries caused by pit bulls throughout the years
have led to bans of the breed in Denver and Wellington counties.
For the last 15 years, if a pit bull was residing in Denver, it
would be impounded once, and if found again, it would be
“Punish the deed, not the breed,” Phillips said.
The dogs do what they are taught, and the owners should take
responsibility for this, Phillips said.
Phillips is training his puppies to not fight. He said Trouble
was once bitten by an adult, male dog at the local dog park, and he
rolled over and submitted. Phillips works with his puppies at home
and he also takes them to Aurora once a week to the American School
Pit bulls have left an impression of extreme loyalty to
Phillips. He said they need plenty of time and attention.
“Their main goal in life is to get their owner’s approval,”