DENVER — Less than a week after a bill that aimed to create an online pet registry in Colorado was introduced, the sponsor of the legislation told Denver7 it has been postponed indefinitely.
HB24-1163 would have required pet owners to register their animal annually for a fee. It would cost $8.50 a year for pets that have a designated caregiver, $16 for dogs or cats that are not spayed or neutered with a designated caregiver, and $25 for pets without a designated caregiver. The caregivers would act as a safety net for the animals, in case of emergency situations with their owners.
Under the provisions of the bill, a caregiver would have to agree to take on the pet. Pets that were not registered in the system could face a civil penalty of $100 maximum. State Representative Regina English, D - El Paso County, introduced the bill on Jan. 31.
“The idea behind it was to create a pet contingency plan for mainly senior people when they're in crisis or something happens, and they would have that person that would have guardianship over their pet, if something happened. Because we all know that our pet shelters are over capacity," English said. “It would create a safety net for first responders, because with people registering a guardian over their pets, it would also come with a sticker that would identify a certain color to let the first responders knew if there's an aggressive pet in the home.”
English said the idea came from a LifePet.Care pilot study. However, the draft of the bill was not what she envisioned.
“I never would intentionally want a piece of legislation that's going to overburden, over tax, and put the people of Colorado in financial distress," English said. “Quite frankly, it just put the people of Colorado in an uproar.”
Originally, English wanted to amend the bill during the process in Colorado's state legislature. After extreme backlash, she decided on Sunday to postpone the bill indefinitely.
“I didn't know that it was going to get all the backlash. And, you know, people wishing death on me, and wishing I die with the bill is quite alarming. So, I don't take things like that lightly," English said. “It wasn't to create this pet tax that people are dubbing it as and the idea was the money go to help first responders and pet shelters... I will continue to do the work for the people and put the people of Colorado first. And that starts with just simply pulling this bill and reworking this piece of legislation, and hopefully bring something back that's more thoughtful and meaningful."
Janet Stephens, who represents the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners, Flatirons Kennel Club and Colorado Springs Kennel Club, was opposed to the bill. She believed it essentially established a tax on pet owners, and said the regulation of pets should be done at the local level, rather than the state level.
“It not only could be a barrier to adoption of a pet because it's an added expense. However, it also would put more dogs and cats into the shelter because folks that cannot afford to pay the fees that are going to be imposed may ultimately give up their pets," Stephens said.
English said the decision to pull the bill was not because she felt pressured by the backlash, but came after discussions with colleagues and plans to focus on other policies she is sponsoring this year.
“I always take things as a learning experience, and there's room to grow and continue to evolve into an even greater leader and continue to represent the people of Colorado," English said. “This wasn't an attack on pet owners, not by a longshot.”