Two bill signings mark dog day at the Legislature

Angus provides a sturdy support for his buddy Griffin Kerr, as they both eye the audience from the VIP section of the bill signing ceremony at the Denver Animal Shelter. The grownup holding Angus’ leash is also Griffin’s dad, Lakewood Sen. Andy Kerr, a co-sponsor of SB 201, about to be signed by the Governor.Photo by John Schoenwalter/The Colorado Statesman

A bill that would mandate a “socially conscious” animal shelter model proscribing euthanasia in most circumstances received the endorsement of the Dumb Friends League and the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies this week.

Senate Bill 164 specifies that each shelter shall offer timely veterinary care to dogs and cats, as well as prohibits lodging the animals in a fashion that “fosters obsessive-compulsive or self-mutilating behavior.” If animals exhibit either nonlethal injury or illness, good health or a “willingness to interact socially with humans,” shelters are required to adopt out the animals, return them to their owner or transfer them. This constitutes a prohibition on euthanasia in those cases, or when the shelter needs to free up space.

“This animal welfare model protects pets and creates safer communities,” said Dumb Friends League president and CEO Apryl Steele. “Passing the Colorado Socially Conscious Sheltering Act means our state will lead the nation in ensuring the best, safest and most humane outcomes for cats and dogs that enter shelters every day.”

The “socially conscious sheltering” philosophy aims to place every healthy dog and cat with an owner. The Dumb Friends League does not put a time limit on an animal’s stay before receiving euthanasia, but notes that its model permits euthanasia if an animal is suffering or if it poses a “real threat to the community”.

The bill's sponsors are Sens. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, and Reps. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, and Alex Valdez, D-Denver.

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