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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis weighs in on pet sterilization bill

Gov. Jared Polis weighs in on pet sterilization bill
Gov. Jared Polis weighs in on pet sterilization bill 01:05

A bill aimed at limiting the sale of puppies and kittens that haven't been spayed or neutered is a step closer to becoming law.

The House Agriculture, Water and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on the measure Monday.

While current law requires sterilization before a pet is sold, animal rights advocates say some rescue organizations are abusing a health exemption in the law to sell thousands of unsterilized puppies and kittens. The original bill allowed an exemption only if an animal's life was at risk. However, the committee amended the bill to restore the health exemption in certain cases for animals born in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis' office worked with bill sponsors on the amendment.

A spokesperson for the governor says it is designed "to provide Colorado veterinarians with additional flexibility." She says it also "provides an important requirement for data reporting to the Department of Agriculture so the agency can more closely monitor the issue."

Lynn Gerber, an animal rights advocate who helped draft the bill says the amendment weakens the measure.

"It concerns me that our governor and our First Gentleman continue to get in and change things that don't need to be changed," she said. my biggest concern is that this opens up Pandora's box. It opens up debate it opens up things- it's pretty simple; we should not be bringing unaltered animals into Colorado."

The Denver Dumb Friends League says it took in a record number of unsterilized animals last year and its shelters have never been so full.

The amended bill passed committee unanimously.

This legislation was driven by shelters and rescues, which sell (or adopt out) the majority of animals in Colorado and are trying to address the state's pet overpopulation problem.

Colorado's 160 breeders and 13 pet stores are exempt from the legislation. The Colorado Department of Agriculture says they sell less than 10,000 dogs and cats a year while shelters and rescues took-in about 182,000 dogs and cats in 2022 and sold or adopted out about 113,000.  

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