Despite Breed Ban-Denver has rising dog bite rates

Posted on 07/07/2009

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Denver leads the state with the highest rate of dog-related injury hospitalizations in Colorado

The County of Denver, despite a draconian pit bull ban enacted in 1989,   has a significantly higher rate of dog bite hospitalizations  than any other county in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment statistics.

The Colorado Trauma Registry Database classified Denver County with a rating of  “H,” that is, with an “injury rate higher than the rest of the state” over a twelve-year period (1995-2006).

Denver is the only county in the state designated “H”.

Five other counties (El Paso, Boulder, Broomfield, Eagle and Larimer) were designated  “L,” with significantly lower rates of dog bite-related hospitalizations, during these same years.

Boulder County, with a population of 290,000,  only had 46 dog bite-related hospitalizations during the period 1995 to 2006.  Boulder County’s animal control ordinances are breed neutral.

Denver County, with a population of 567,000, less than twice that of Boulder county,  had almost six times as many dog bite-related hospitalizations during the same 12 years. The breed ban had been in effect for six years prior to the first year reported, 1995.

From :       1995 – 2006

Denver:     567,000  people   –    273  dog bite hospitalizations     (breed ban enacted in 1989)
Boulder     290,000  people   –      46  dog bite hospitalizations      (no breed specific legislation)

Has Denver’s pit bull ban had any effect?

Prior to Denver’s 1989 pit bull ban, the city was already enjoying a dramatic decrease in the number of dog bites reported annually:  from 3,361 in 1971 to 941 in 1988.

Denver, like most cities throughout the nation, continues to experience a decrease  in the number of dog-related injuries (i.e., the number of reported dog bite incidents and the number of hospitalizations due to dog-related injuries).

Reports from cities and counties across the country, demonstrate that this trend is unrelated to breed bans or breed specific regulation. Cities or counties that have enacted breed bans or restrictions have not had greater reductions in the number of reported bites  and/or number of persons hospitalized with dog-related injuries, as compared to cities or counties without breed bans or restrictions.

See: Colorado State COHI Dataset:  Hospital injury report

National Canine Research Council