SOUTHERN COLORADO — HB21-1160 passed out of the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Water Committee on Monday afternoon. The bill hopes to set a minimum standard of care for animal shelters and rescues throughout Colorado.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region supports the bill. "Every animal that enters a shelter is going to be treated as that individual animal. They're going to be looked at medically and behaviorally... If the shelter can't provide that, then they look to transfer the animal and find another solution for this animal to make sure it's getting the best life," explained the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for HSPPR, Colette Bradley.
The bill allows a shelter or rescue to "dispose" of an animal only through adoption, returning the pet to their original owner, or transferring it to another shelter or rescue. That's as long as the animal is not too injured or ill for a good life, and has not shown any behavior that could harm another animal or human.
HSPPR already practices this socially conscious shelter framework, and would not have to change their protocol if the bill became a law.
Bradley said currently, there is no standard of care in place mandated by law like this bill would require. "Set that minimum standard of care, is really what we're going for. And if a shelter can't afford to do these things, then look at transferring to other shelters that can. That's why we're all here, it's a collaboration between shelters in the state. We want to work together, and help each other, and make Colorado a great place for shelter animals," said Bradley.
Representative Monica Duran is one of the sponsors of the bill, which she said will ensure animals have the most humane treatment possible in shelters. "We can do better, and we can do more... How can we get them to the place where they can find a forever home?" said Representative Duran.
Representative Duran said this legislation would not impact the way no-kill shelters operate. "No dog or cat is going to be killed or euthanized due to time, space, or convenience," said Representative Duran.
However, opponents worry about the unintended consequences of the bill. The President of No Kill Colorado, Davyd Smith, said the current form of the bill has many loopholes. "It's a poorly crafted law, and it leaves the door open for a lot of interpretation," said Smith, right before he went into the House Committee to speak.
CLICK HERE to read more about why No Kill Colorado opposes HB21-1160.
Smith believes the bill could affect small communities disproportionately, specifically when it comes to the money needed to implement the law. "There's a little bit of David and Goliath here, because there's a lot of small organizations that have come out to oppose this because they didn't know the bill was there, they weren't asked to collaborate," said Smith.
Smith said he does not want the bill to die, but wants to see it rewritten.
The bill must be voted on by Colorado's House of Representatives and Senate before becoming law.