DENVER (CBS4) - A new Colorado law will ban animal abusers from owning a pet for upwards of five years. Gov. Jared Polis signed HB19-1092 into law Wednesday afternoon.
"It will increase restrictions of people convicted of felony pet animal cruelty, and facilitate mental health and treatments to address the underlying factors that drive tragic animal cruelty," Polis said.
For animal lovers like Caitlyn Bennett, an Adoptions Counselor at Denver Dumb Friends League, the new law is a step in the right direction. A big part of her job is finding caring homes for pets in need, including animals brought to the shelter from abusive situations.
"Owning an animal is a privilege," she told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "If you don't take that privilege seriously then there should be repercussions."
With the new law, offenders would be banned from owning, possessing or caring for an animal for three to five years. A judge can also sentence them to complete an anger management program or other mental health treatment.
"The basis of this bill was to help animals, obviously," Representative Alex Valdez, a sponsor of the bill, said, "but also to help the people who abuse them to not become more dangerous in the future."
Valdez explained the law will be enforced much like a restraining order.
"It would have to be a report that [the offender] is in possession of an animal or during a routine check they would find that, but we're not creating a 'doggie police force' or anything like that," he said.
Caitlyn believes the law will bring more awareness to the responsibilities of owning an animal, and hopefully, one day eliminate animal cruelty in Colorado.
"In an ideal world, I wouldn't have a job," she said with a smile. "It would be something were responsible pet ownership would be taken seriously."
Polis also announced the People for Animal Welfare Committee during Wednesday's bill signing. The committee would play an advisory role on issues related to animal protection in the state.
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