Animal Ordinances & Legislation

Living with Your Pet in Denver

Read an overview of city ordinances related to the care and keeping of pets in Denver. Pet owners are responsible for a comprehensive understanding of any ordinances impacting their pets and for compliance of such ordinances. Your cooperation and compliance means a safe, happy pet-owning experience for you, your pet, and the community.

Breed Specific Legislation

Denver Restricted Breed/Pit Bull Facts

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Updated: May 18, 2021

Denver residents voted November 3, 2020, to repeal the pit bull ban. Under Denver’s Ordinance Sec. 8-67, restricted breeds (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, or Staffordshire Bull Terrier) are prohibited unless they have been issued a provisional Breed-Restricted Permit.

This means that Denver residents may not own or keep a pit bull within the city without first obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit from Denver Animal Protection (DAP).

Pit bull-type dogs are defined as any dog displaying a majority of physical traits of any one or more of the specific breeds mentioned above, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing (physical) characteristics that substantially conform to the standards established by American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club.

The ordinance was officially amended January 1, 2021, and DAP has established an initial Breed-Restricted Permitting Process based on the amended language of the ordinance voted into law to help pit bull owners plan for the changes. It is the responsibility of any new owner of an adopted restricted-breed animal to contact DAP to initiate the provisional permitting process.

If your question is not answered below, please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that follow. 

Schedule your assessment now! 
For the accuracy of your dogs evaluation, please do not schedule an evaluation until your dog is 10 months of age. 

Breed-Restricted Permitting Process

Effective immediately, all pit bull owners and adopters must contact DAP to schedule an appointment for a restricted-breed assessment. Assessments will take 30-45 minutes and will be conducted by DAP at the Denver Animal Shelter. The assessment fee is $25 per dog and is non-refundable. No owner or keeper of any pit bull may own or keep more than two pit bulls per household.

Through the assessment process, if your dog is determined not to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver without a permit. The owner will be provided with an official breed evaluation letter stating that the dog was evaluated by DAP. Assessment fees are non-refundable. All dogs in Denver are required to have a rabies vaccination, city license, and be spayed or neutered, or have an intact permit allowing the dog to remain unaltered (which requires a $150 fee; more information below regarding intact animals and the process to receive an intact permit).

If, through the assessment process, your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the banned breeds, you will need to follow the application process for obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit.

The application process for a Breed-Restricted Permit to own or keep a pit bull will require the following:

  • Name and address of the owner or keeper where the pit bull will be located
  • Names and addresses of two people who may be contacted in the event of an emergency involving the pit bull
  • An accurate description of the pit bull and recent photograph
  • Payment of the $30 Breed-Restricted Permit fee (this is in addition to the $25 assessment fee)
  • Proof the dog is neutered or spayed, or proof of a DAP intact permit that allows the dog to remain unaltered
  • Proof that the animal has had a registered microchip implanted
  • Proof that the animal has a current rabies vaccination
  • Proof that the animal has a city license (A pit bull license cannot be purchased through PetData. Please visit the Denver Animal Shelter to purchase a pit bull license).
  • Any other information that DAP reasonably requires

The fee for the permit is $30 per animal, and it must be renewed every year for 3 years (at $30 per animal per year).  If there are no violations* within that time period, owners will be provided with written notice that they have been removed from the Breed-Restricted permitting requirements. 

 

*Examples of potential violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Off-leash charge
  • Lapsed permit charge
  • Excrement charge
  • Bite charge
  • Excessive barking charge
  • Potentially dangerous animal/dangerous animal charge

Each violation results in a resetting of the three-year time period, or other consequences. In order to reapply for a Breed-Restricted Permit, owners and keepers must show proof that the violation has been corrected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are pit bull dogs legal now in Denver?

Restricted breeds are still illegal to own within the City and County of Denver unless you have a Breed-Restricted Permit for the dog issued by DAP.

When is the new ordinance active?

The ordinance is in effect as of January 1, 2021. Owners of dogs impounded or evaluated after this date will have their animals returned to them with a breed letter and guidance to apply for and purchase a permit.

What if I have a dog that has already been determined to be illegal under the old ordinance?

Under the new ordinance, you may bring the dog that was previously illegal back to Denver, but first you must obtain a permit. In order to do this, please bring the breed letter you were previously given to the shelter during normal business hours and request a permit application from the staff at the shelter. An application can also be found at DenverAnimalShelter.org.

Can I bring my pit bull into Denver now?

You cannot bring a restricted-breed dog into Denver until you have a Breed-Restricted Permit issued by DAP.

I live in another city and I want to bring my pit bull in for a visit. Do I need a permit?

Yes. All suspected pit bull dogs must have a breed evaluation completed at DAP, and if the dog is determined by DAP to be a restricted-breed dog, a permit is required for the dog to be within Denver City and County limits at any time.

I don’t live in Denver and I want to use a doggie day care in Denver. Do I need a permit?

Yes. All pit bulls must be permitted to be within Denver City and County limits at any time. There is no exception for owned dogs that will be placed at any boarding or day care facility.

I’m thinking of moving to Denver. Can I purchase the permit online or call and buy the permit before I move?

Unfortunately, this is not an option. DAP needs to complete an in-person evaluation of the dog to determine its breed, and then you can purchase the permit, if necessary. If you get your dog evaluated by DAP prior to moving, you are welcome to purchase the permit at the same time and then update it when you move to a Denver address.

Can pit bull dogs be adopted out now by Denver Animal Shelter or other local shelters to Denver residents?
Yes. Adopters of restricted-breed dogs must schedule a breed evaluation and then purchase a permit if DAP determines your dog to be a restricted-breed dog.

If I am a Denver resident and adopt a dog from a shelter other than Denver Animal Shelter that is a restricted breed, what do I need to do next?
Please schedule a breed evaluation and then purchase a permit if DAP determines your dog to be a restricted breed.

I don’t know if my dog is a pit bull. What should I do?
If you are unsure of your dog’s primary breed, you can make an appointment with DAP for a breed assessment. Breed assessments cost $25. If your dog is determined to have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, you will need to follow the process for obtaining a Breed-Restricted Permit.

If it is determined that the dog does not have a majority of the physical characteristics of the restricted breeds, the dog will be allowed in Denver without a permit. The owner will be provided with an official breed evaluation letter stating that the dog was evaluated by DAP. All dogs in Denver are required to have a rabies vaccination, city license, and be spayed or neutered, or have an intact permit.

How exactly does the breed assessment work?

During the assessment, three certified breed evaluators will look at the dog’s physical characteristics and compare them to the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club breed standards for the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Each of the three evaluators will make an independent determination of whether the dog displays predominate pit bull characteristics or not. There is no evaluation of behavior or temperament during the assessment. All three evaluators must determine that the dog displays predominant pit bull characteristics in order for the dog to be classified as a pit bull breed.

How many dogs can I bring during my assessment?

DAP will evaluate up to two dogs from the same owner during one assessment time slot. Dogs from the same household with different owners must be evaluated during two separate assessment time slots. 

How many pit bulls can I have?
The maximum number of pit bulls that any owner or keeper may have living in your home is two.

Can I bring my pit bull to an off-leash dog park?
Yes, once your dog has satisfied all of the requirements and been issued a Breed-Restricted Permit and a city license, the dog is allowed in any off-leash dog park in the City and County of Denver.

What are the criteria for my dog being labeled a pit bull?
DAP team members have been highly trained to evaluate the characteristics of a dog to determine whether it is a restricted breed. Many of these characteristics are apparent only to a trained professional.

How do I make an appointment for an assessment?
Schedule your breed assessment at Online Appointments.  

What if I disagree with DAP’s assessment of my dog?
If you dispute the classification of your dog as a pit bull, you may file a written petition for a hearing concerning such classification no later than 7 days after the assessment.

Why do I need to provide the names and addresses of two people in the application?
To fulfill the requirements of Denver Ordinance Sec. 8-67, all owners or keepers of a restricted-breed animal must have on file the names and addresses of two contacts.

These two contacts must be people who can take care of the dog or be able to control the dog when you’re not available. The people you designate as your contacts can be a family member, a neighbor or a friend, but that person is going to have to come get the dog if it escapes or is in an altercation. It needs to be someone who feels comfortable with and capable of getting the animal under control. This person is acting on your behalf and is responsible only for the care or control of the dog when you are not able to do so.

What if I don’t get a permit for my pit bull(s)?

If you are stopped by DAP, or are reported to DAP, and found to be in possession of one or more pit bulls that have not been issued a permit, the following protocols apply:

You will receive a warning and a mandatory request to bring the animal(s) in for an assessment. DAP will perform a follow-up verification within 10 days of the warning. If you have not brought the dog in for an assessment and applied for a permit, you may be subject to a court appearance or a fine, or DAP may remove the animal(s) from the home.


Permit Legislation

Intact Animals

What is an Intact Permit?

Denver requires any dog or cat over the age of 6 months to be spayed or neutered. An intact permit allows an exception to this rule.  An intact permit is not a permit for breeding.

Denver Animal Protection’s policy is that only one intact permit is allowed per residence for animals of the same species, even if they are the same sex. This is in the interest of the animals, as well as the health and welfare of the public.

An intact permit application will be denied for the following:

  • The pet owner has had two violations of Chapter 8 in the preceding 24-month period.
  • There is a history of bites or attacks associated with the animal or previous animals of the owner.
  • The dog has been running at large and/or impounded at Denver Animal Shelter.
  • Property is at an apartment complex, duplex, etc. and/or yard is a communal or shared yard.

If you have been issued a citation for spay/neuter, we must receive your application within 15 days of when the citation was issued to ensure the property inspection and permit approval is completed within the 30-day compliance period.

Intact Permits Process and Requirements

Applying for an annual Intact Animal Permit requires the following:

  • Inspection of the property where the animal is kept
  • Proof of current rabies vaccination issued by a licensed veterinarian and annual vaccines
    • For dogs: distemper and parvovirus
    • For cats: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia
  • A current City of Denver dog/cat license
    • Fees are: $15 one year, $40 for three years, and $150 for lifetime license. (Proof of a current rabies vaccination is required to purchase a city license.)
  • Proof of spay/neuter for any other same-species pet in the home as the pet that the permit is requested for.

Property Requirements (for dogs)

  • The fence must be at least 6 feet in height.
  • Wrought iron fences will not be approved (small breed dogs can enter easily).
  • All gates and entrances must be secured.

Denver Animal Protection will not approve an intact permit at an address with inadequate fencing. The fence must prevent the resident dog from escaping, as well as prevent any stray dogs from entering the yard.

Permit Application

Livestock or Fowl

Potentially Dangerous Animals

If your dog has been deemed a Potentially Dangerous Animal in the City and County of Denver, you are required to start the permit process within 5 days of being sentenced.  

How to Apply

You can fill out the application(PDF, 165KB) (Espanol(PDF, 413KB)) and review the requirements(PDF, 411KB) (Espanol)(PDF, 413KB) online. You can also go to the Denver Animal Shelter to apply in person.

Application Requirements

The application must be filled out in its entirety in order to be processed.

You must provide the following information to Denver Animal Protection when the application is turned in:

  • Certificate/Proof that the animal is spayed or neutered.
  • Certificate/Proof of current rabies vaccination issued by a licensed veterinarian and annual vaccines.
  • Current City of Denver dog/cat license ($15 one year, $40 for three years and $150 for lifetime).
  • Animal must be microchipped.

Any address with a Potentially Dangerous Animal on property must have signage at every entrance, (See requirements(PDF, 411KB)) but may not require an enclosure as defined in D.R.M.C. 8-63.

A field services representative will contact you within 3 days regarding your application as each Potentially Dangerous Animal Permit is handled on a case by case basis.