Denver’s ban on pit bulls will remain in place — for now, anyway.

Mayor Michael Hancock said Friday afternoon he will veto legislation that would have repealed the ban, and it doesn’t appear the Denver City Council has the votes to override him.

It will be Hancock’s first veto in three terms.

“The reality is that irresponsible pet owners continue to be a problem, and it is the irresponsible owners and their dogs I must consider in evaluating the overall impact of this ordinance,” Hancock said in a statement.

“While I appreciate the effort that Councilman Herndon has put in to crafting this ordinance and its guardrails, I do not believe this ordinance fully addresses the very real risk to severe injury that can result from attacks from these particular dog breeds, especially should they happen to a child,” the mayor continued.

If the council is unable to overcome the veto in a vote Tuesday evening, Councilman Chris Herndon, who proposed the measure, said he will aim to place a similar measure on the city’s November ballot. An override would require nine votes, and it passed the council with seven.

“I’m disappointed the mayor is choosing to disregard the science on the issue of breed-specific legislation,” he said. “Research tells us breed-specific legislation is ineffective at keeping communities safe and experts in the field – from the local level to the national level – agree it is no longer best practice.”

The American Veterinary Medicine Association, Denver Dumb Friends League and Northfield Veterinary Hospital were among the organizations behind Herndon’s repeal effort.

Even so, some of the council members who voted for the repeal noted that they had a difficult time with the decision. Those opposed expressed a fear of the damage pit bulls can cause.

Certainly the mayor was pulled in both directions this week. He noted that hundreds of calls, emails and social media posts flowed into his office with valid points on each side.

Hancock said in a video earlier Friday that he had been dreaming of pit bulls since the council approved the measure Monday night.

Indeed, he said, he remembered when the law was first enacted.

“I grew up in this city and I watched in the late 1980s as Denver faced repeated attacks by pit bulls, some fatal,” Hancock said.

He noted that fewer than 20% of all pets in Denver are licensed, raising questions about how effective Herndon’s measure would be.

Aurora, Lone Tree, Louisville and Commerce City also ban pit bulls. Aurora’s City Council is discussing whether to change its law, however, and Castle Rock’s Town Council repealed its pit bull ban in 2018.