Pitbull Ban Lifted: Q&A with Joan Thielen from Dumb Friends League


Dumb Friends League

Bella, the adoptable 8 year old pitbull

Hannah Najem, Writer

The Dumb Friends League is an organization of multiple pet shelters across Colorado. They shelter dogs, cats, horses, and various other small pets such as mice and bunnies. When walking into a Dumb Friends League Shelter, a sad pattern emerges. Pitbulls. A majority of the dogs in their shelters are pitbulls. This can be explained by Pitbulls actually being banned in Denver for more than thirty years! However, in the recent election, Denver has voted to lift the Pitbull ban! To learn more about pitbulls and specifically pitbulls in shelters, I interviewed Joan Thielen a Public Relations Manager at Dumb Friends League.

Q: How do you feel when you see pitbulls in the shelter

A: I feel good when I see pit bulls at the Dumbs Friends League. I would like to see them new homes more than in the shelter. 

Q: What are some stereotypes that you heard about pit bulls?

A: I’ve heard a lot of different stereotypes about pitbulls, we’ve heard that people might think that they’re more of an aggressive breed of dogs, and that they don’t get along with other dogs as well as some other breeds. 

Q: Do you agree with the pitbulls? Do you think that they should be illegal?

 A: So, the Dumbs Friends League does not support the courts specific legislation. We believe every animal should be evaluated on an individual basis to see what their different personalities are, what behavior needs they might need, [and] what medical needs that they might have. We support the bill that was passed here in Denver that will allow pitbulls to proceed in the city of Denver.

Q: What was your reaction when the pitbull bill got overruled?

A: We were very excited! It was a long time coming, so it had actually been changed earlier in the year and vetoed. We were excited to see the news on the November ballot and excited to see the Denver community vote to pass that legislation, so that we can know that we can have pit bulls in the city and county of Denver starting after the first of the year. 

Q: Why do you think Pitbulls have the bill in the first place?

A: You know, I think the law that banned them was just very outdated and Denver was over 30 years old and our community has changed a lot here. Denver is such a dog loving city most people have dogs or enjoy being around dogs. So, I think the community really rallied and showed that those dogs shouldn’t be discriminated against, and should be allowed in the city. 

Q: Have you met anyone who agreed with the pit bull bill?

A: No, I haven’t met anyone personally, but I did attend the legislation session city council meeting where the bill was initially passed and was vetoed, there were some people that were opposed by legislation. 

Q: Have you come into an interaction where you’ve been attacked by a pit bull?

A: I don’t know anybody that has been attacked by a pit bull. I’ve personally not been attacked by a pit bull aggressively. They are very affectionate towards me. They give lots of kisses and something they jump up on because they’re so excited to see you, but it’s always out of love. 

Q: Do you think that pit bulls should be treated like any other dog?

A: You know, I think every dog should be evaluated individually and we should learn about their personality on an individual basis– not based on their breed at all. So, we want to do what’s best for the community in Denver, but it also depends on pets that have come into the shelter. That is looking at every individual animal that needs behavior help here at the shelter, or if they’re sick, or injured and needs a veterinarian. We categorize all dogs the same here no matter if there is a tiny chihuahua or a great dane. We treat them the same as far as what they might need so the Dumbs Friends League feels like that should be the standard there shouldn’t be any stereotypes. 

Q: Do you think that the pit bull bill shouldn’t have been a thing?

A: I hope that we don’t ever ban pit bulls in the city and county of Denver again. We absolutely understand people prefer different dog breeds. We have different pets at the shelter and that we can help them. You can adopt a lab or a terrier or some other type of dog. We also also welcome the opportunity to educate people and answer their questions in a way that is respectful for them.

Visit The Dumb Friends League Website to learn more about shelter animals, donate, or even adopt!