DENVER (CBS4) – A bill aiming to ban puppy mills and the retail sale of puppies and kittens in Colorado will be introduced in the Colorado legislative session. Animal rights advocates say pet stores selling puppies encourages the inhumane puppy mill trade, but some say a bill banning sales isn’t the answer.
The bill proposal comes after dozens of people in the Denver metro area in just the last couple of years said they bought a puppy from a pet store, only for it to get sick and die days later, because those puppies were likely bred in the poor conditions of puppy mills.
It happened to Jennifer Woods, of Broomfield, too. She bought a puppy for her 10-year-old son’s birthday in August 2019 from a Westminster pet store. Sadly, the puppy, named Jax, got sick only three days after she bought him, and died two weeks later of distemper.
“It really breaks my heart,” Woods told CBS4. “You don’t want to tell your son that, ‘I’m sorry, but Jax is not coming home with you.’”
Rep. Monica Duran told CBS4 she’s heard hundreds of stories like Woods’. Duran wrote the puppy mill ban bill, which she has labeled the Humane Pet Act.
She said the act will not only eliminate mass breeding operations in Colorado, but will also call for more humane treatment of animals who are being bred.
“It also limits how many times in a lifetime they can be bred,” Duran said. “It also requires them to get daily exercise.”
And, after an animal has finished breeding for their lifetime, the bill would require the animal to be given a new home, instead of being euthanized.
Also, by banning the retail sale of puppies and kittens, Duran said the bill will stifle the demand for puppy mills out of state.
But, some local pet stores owners worry that could put them out of business.
“I feel the bill will not only hurt my business and put me out of business… but also I feel that bill will not do anything to curtail what the humane society depicts as a puppy mill,” said Jens Larsen, owner of Perfect Pets in Centennial.
Larsen has been in business for 26 years. He said he loves the puppies, and enjoys making people happy by helping them to find a new furry family member.
“I care about all of the people that buy them, and we make a lot of people happy, a lot of people have suffering, and they come in here to play with animals, and they find refuge in the animals always being loyal and friendly and kind to them,” Larsen said.
Asked what her response was to people who said the bill would put small pet stores out of business, Duran said, “This isn’t going to put them out of business, what it’s going to do is make them look at things a little different, a lot of them sell pet supplies, pet food, a lot of them do pet grooming, they can host pet adoptions… and acknowledge that you know what, we haven’t been doing things right, and now it’s time to change.”
But Larsen said such a notion is “ridiculous.” He said 80% of his sales are puppies, and it would be tough for him to compete with big pet supplies chain stores.
Larsen said he does get his puppies from large breeding operations, but he only does business with U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified breeders.
He also said his puppies are transported in a climate-controlled van, and receive proper vet checks.
“Not all are created equal,” Larsen said. “So don’t lump everybody together, just because one person is doing it wrong.”
California and Maryland have already passed similar bans.
California Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell sponsored the bill in his state – AB 485 – that was passed in 2017, and went into effect last year.
“I’m very encouraged that states are looking at a policy much akin to AB 485 so that we can ultimately shut down the puppy mill trade to every state in our country,” said O’Donnell.
Woods is hopeful too.
“I just hope that it just doesn’t happen anymore,” Woods said. “It’s putting a lot of puppies and families in pain.”
The bill will be introduced in the session soon, and will then go to committee. What do you think about the proposal? You can always write your local legislator and the governor’s office about your opinion.