Golden Retriever Puppies

A bill that would have put heavier restrictions on pet stores that sell puppies and kittens, was changed substantially in the Senate and barely cleared the chamber on Friday.

House Bill 1102 started out as an effort to force the dozen pet stores that still sell kittens and puppies to stop getting animals from mills, although pet store owners testified in a Feb. 25 hearing that they use reputable breeders.

As introduced, the bill would require pet stores to provide customers with the pet's price, breeder information, the cost of financing the sale, if needed, as well as requiring that information for advertisements. HB 1102 also included a stipulation that prevented new pet stores, or existing pet stores that hadn't previously sold dogs or cats, from offering them. Pet store owners claimed this would prohibit them from selling the business to family members or employees. Several said they had sunk their life savings into their stores, and that the investment represented the only retirement they could rely on. 

There are about a dozen pet stores in Colorado licensed to sell puppies and kittens, and only nine, all along the Front Range, do so on a regular basis. HB 1102 is part of the animal rights agenda of first gentleman Marlon Reis and the Humane Society of the United States. 

The bill got amended in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee in February, allowing pet store owners to sell their businesses to employees or family members. 

The bill ran into bigger trouble when it got to the state Senate, where the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee stripped the bill of the section related to the sale of pet stores and licenses to family or employees, meaning new pet store owners who want licenses to sell puppies and kittens could still obtain them.*

Even that wasn't enough to get full support from the Senate, at least at first, on Friday.

The first vote on HB 1102 had three Democrats, Sens. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, voted against. The count was 17-16, leading Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, to declare the bill passed. But it takes 18 votes to pass a bill, no matter how many members are present. Gonzales then asked for reconsideration of the vote, and switched to a "yes," meaning it passed on an 18-15 vote. 

HB 1102 still needs to go back to the House for consideration of the amendment that stripped the bill of one of its major provisions. 

Correction: a previous version said the Senate Ag Committee stripped the bill of most of its major provisions.

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