In November 2020, Denver residents voted to repeal the city’s pit bull ban. Does that mean people who travel with a pittie should visit the Mile High City?

Senior Pit Bull in Denver with fall foliage in the background

Denver Repeals Pit Bull Ban

On January 1, 2021, Denver, Colorado’s pit bull ban ended after 31 long years. However, that doesn’t mean these dogs will now be treated like all other breeds.

Beginning January 2, 2021, pit bull owners need a Provisional Breed-Restricted Permit to have their dog in Denver.

Denver, Colorado skyline a beautiful park on a lovely autumn day

Who Needs The Breed-Restricted Permit?

Before spending time in Denver, all dogs that display a majority of the physical traits of an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier must complete an in-person assessment by Denver Animal Protection (DAP).

You can schedule an assessment at the Denver Animal Shelter website. It takes 35-40 minutes, and the cost is $25 per dog.

If your dog is determined not to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, it will be allowed in Denver without the special permit. DAP will provide you with a letter stating the results of your dog’s evaluation. 

If DAP determines that your dog does have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, you will need to obtain a Breed-Restricted Permit.

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Outdoor Portrait close-up American Pit Bull Terrier in Denver

Taking A Pit Bull To Denver

Even if you know that your dog is a pit bull, you still have to complete the in-person evaluation and pay the $25 fee. In addition, you’ll need to purchase the Breed-Restricted Permit.

The fee for the permit is $30. If the dog remains in Denver, the permit must be renewed every year for three years. After three years, you can request an exemption from the breed-restricted requirements if your dog hasn’t received any violations.

Information You’ll Need

This is what you’ll need to get the Breed-Restricted Permit:

  • Name and address of the owner where the dog will be located in Denver
  • Names and addresses of two people who can be contacted in the event of an emergency involving the dog
  • An accurate description of the dog and a recent photograph
  • Payment of the $30 Breed-Restricted Permit fee (in addition to the $25 assessment fee)
  • Either proof that the dog is neutered or spayed, or a DAP intact permit allowing the dog to remain unaltered
  • Proof that the dog has a registered microchip implanted
  • A current rabies vaccination certificate
  • A dog has a city license, which costs $15 per year. (A pit bull’s city license can only be issued at the same time the Breed-Restricted Permit is approved.)
  • Any other information that DAP reasonably requires
Pit bull sitting in front of a blue wooden fence front garden with flowers

What If You’re Just Visiting?

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions for pit bulls visiting Denver with their people. Simply stated, you cannot bring a restricted-breed dog into Denver City or County until you have a Breed-Restricted Permit issued by DAP.

That means you’d need to schedule the assessment, take your dog to the in-person evaluation, pay $25 for the assessment, complete the Breed-Restricted Permit application, and pay $30 for the permit. Whether it’s worth the effort to visit Denver is your call.

Also note that owners can only have two dogs that require Breed-Restricted Permits.

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Dog in a red harness on a walk on the lakeshore

What If DAP Catches You Without The Permit?

If you and your pit bull get stopped by a DAP officer and don’t have the special permit you’ll receive a warning and a mandatory request to bring the dog in for an assessment. DAP will perform a follow-up verification within 10 days of the warning.

If you don’t take the dog in for an assessment and apply for a permit, you may be subject to a court appearance or a fine, or DAP can remove the dog from the home.

In short, we don’t recommend winging it without the permit.

While we’re glad to see the pit bull ban overturned, Denver’s breed restrictions are still too discriminatory for us. There are so many other wonderful places to see in the country – we’d rather visit ones that welcome all pets.

Learn more: Denver Restricted Breeds / Pit Bull Facts

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  • A few days ago, an elderly woman was killed (and her grandson sent to hospital) in Golden after being pit bulls. The data on dog attacks show pit bulls are much more likely to attack than other dogs. I think that a relatively straightforward assessment and permit is a fair trade off to possibly ensure safety of others.

    • Thank you for your note, Rob. That’s a terrible tragedy and I’m sorry it happened.

      From my perspective, Denver’s requirement that any dog that is even part pit bull (or could possibly be mistaken for a pit bull) be taken in for an assessment and receive a permit – even to visit the city – is too onerous. There are many other places we can visit without these kinds of restrictions, and that’s where I prefer to spend my travel dollars.

      Further, it seems to me that if the citizens of all the cities that don’t discriminate against pit bulls were being attacked by dogs visiting with their families, those cities would put laws in place to prevent those attacks. But they haven’t. Denver’s laws might be well-intentioned, but they create a significant hurdle for people who travel with their pets.

      And why discriminate against pit bulls? If this were truly an issue of safety, all drivers who’ve ever received a traffic ticket would have to go the the DMV for an assessment before they drive in Denver. At the very least, anyone who’s received a DUI in the past would be subjected to additional scrutiny! And every person who has a license to carry a gun from another jurisdiction should be required to pass an assessment before they bring a weapon into the city. The data clearly shows that cars and guns are far more likely to cause harm to others than all dogs combined. But Denver only chooses to discriminate against pit bulls.

    • I’m so sorry for the family that this happened to.. however what is backing your statistics here? If you have done true research on the breed ‘Pit Bulls were less likely to show aggression than: Beagles, Bull Dogs, Basset Hounds, Bichon Frise, Corgis, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Poodles, Yorkshier Terriers and so many more breeds that it would be impossible for me to list them all right here” this is all pulled from an article based on testing done on dog breeds. They have actually passed higher than Golden Retrievers and here’s a link for you. I do not agree that any breed should be judged based on a stigma or mass media. l

    • Sad to hear but Its not the breed of the dog, its the owners that raised them. That’s the real issue.
      Just like adults with bad children.

  • Wow! That is ridiculous! They didn’t do anything! They just extended the ban! Bad dog, Denver! Bad dog!!!!

    • Yes, the press they put out made it sound like the change was a huge improvement. In reality, I still wouldn’t take my dog there.

      • I won’t even entered the blasted state, even if I didn’t have a pit bull. That is totally ridiculous. They didn’t stop anything at all!!

  • Category: Travel News, Travel Tips / Tagged with: Colorado