Pit-bull ban proponent says Denver paper threatened to pull political ad after ban critics complained


    AURORA | A controversial ad about pit bulls that ran in the Aurora Sentinel and Denver Post will appear in two more editions of the Post’s “YourHub” insert after the sponsor said the Denver newspaper threatened to pull the ad after pit-bull proponents reportedly flooded the newspaper with complaints.

    denver post yourhub pit bull adThe ad, which states “fact: pit bulls kill more humans and animals than all breeds combined,”   was created by Jeff Borchardt of Daxton’s Friends. The non-profit advocacy group formed after Borchardt’s 14-month-old  son was mauled to death by two pit bulls in 2013 while at a babysitter’s house. The ad does not mention Aurora’s ballot question 2D, which would end the city’s 8-year-old ban on pit bulls. Election stories draw heavy and heated comment from both sides of the issue. YourHub is a weekly zoned reader-contributed content section of the Denver Post.

    After the ad ran, an employee with the Post’s advertising department asked Borchardt if he could revise the ad to make it “not so in your face” going forward.  In email correspondence obtained by Sentinel, the employee wrote Borchardt that the Post had received “a ton of hate mail and complaints” in response to it. Borchardt said Post advertising officials told him they would refuse the ad unless he modified he because of the complaints from pit-bull proponents.

    Carla Royter, the paper’s advertising and sales director, said Friday that the Post would run the remaining ads to include language that identified them with political advertising.

    “We’ve spoken with the advertiser and they have agreed to source their claims and to add ‘paid for by’ required of political advertising.  So with these additions, the ad will publish as ordered,” she said in a statement.

    The ad, which was also published in the Aurora Sentinel’s 2014 Voter’s Guide, comes at a time when Aurora residents are voting on whether to repeal a nearly-decade-long ban on pit bulls.

    Borchardt said the ad is not political and that he is still working with the Post on revisions.

    “This is a freedom of speech issue,” he said.  He said, however, he will agree to use the site Dogsbite.org as a source for the next two ads.

    Borchardt has also received prolific critical comments since the ad went to print. From emails he forwarded to the Sentinel, many focused on his deceased son. One commenter posted a picture of his son’s head and wrote “my dart board lmfao.”

    Borchardt does not live in Colorado but has family in the state. His mother-in-law, who did not want to be named for this story, lives in Centennial and has corresponded with Aurora City Council about her grandson’s death. Centennial does not have a ban on pit bulls.

    Thousands of heated comments from both ban proponents and critics accompany almost every story that runs on the issue at aurorasentinel.com.