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Colorado State Pets

Adopted Dogs & Cats Canis lupus familiaris & Felis catus Adopted: May 13, 2013

Originating with middle-school students from Peakview School in Walsenburg, the idea to make adopted shelter and rescue cats and dogs the official pets of Colorado was motivated by a desire to bring attention to the plight of the dogs and cats that land in shelters and with rescue groups across the state and an interest in learning, first hand, about the legislative process. The students found a ready ally in State Senator, and teacher, Andy Kerr.

Senator Kerr crafted the legislation and introduced Senate Bill No. 201 in the Colorado Senate on March 3, 2013. Senator Kerr stated that he wanted to recognize "the excellent work that our rescue groups and our shelter groups do in finding homes for dogs and cats that truly need them." [ 1 ]

On March 21, 2013, the Senate Education Committee held a public hearing. According to The Denver Post, "So many people arrived to testify that stragglers were left to find seats in the overflow room. Dog leashes stretched across the packed hallway, obstacles for the unwary, and piercing barks interrupted testimony."

Roger Arellano, a Peakview student, testified in support of the bill.

"It's important to honor the voice of the voiceless," he said. [ 1 ]

Speaking up on behalf of shelter and rescue dogs is "a matter of life and death" for millions of dogs and cats, he said. "And you can save a lot of money compared to getting them from a pet store." [ 1 ]

The bill met with a small amount of grumbling by some, remarking that the legislation channeled attention away from the serious matters that faced the Rocky Mountain State.

Others suggested that service animals should be rewarded with the attention. Some thought that it was wrong to single out cats and dogs, leaving out other pets that could be found in shelters.

By far, though, the most strenuous opposition was provided by lobbyists representing animal breeders, purebred dog clubs, retailers, groomers and dog-show organizers.

Dan Anglin, of Anglin Public Affairs, represented the Colorado Federation of Dog Clubs, which puts on dog shows in the state, and the Colorado Pet Association, which represents Colorado animal breeders, groomers and retailers.

He claimed that the bill "didn’t make any sense." [ 2 ] He went on to say that the law would cause people to believe that it was better to acquire a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group than from a breeder or other source.

He also brought attention to the fact that there was already a Colorado State license plate, the "Adopt a Shelter Pet" plate, that promoted the adoption of shelter animals.

Colorado adopt a shelter pet license plate
Colorado ADOPT A SHELTER PET License Plate

Mr. Anglin further informed those in attendance that the economic impact of American Kennel Club purebred dog ownership in Colorado was an estimated $20.48 million each year. [ 1 ]

Another problem was that the bill "unfairly discriminates against birds, reptiles, arachnids and other mammals. And snakes, lizards and spiders."

An enterprising fifth grader, who brought his golden retriever to the hearing, tried to amend the bill to name the golden retriever the official state dog. He compared the color of his dog's brown eyes to the Colorado Rocky Mountains and his dog's buff coat to the color of all the gold found in the state.

The suggestions and objections were aplenty, but the Peakview students along with all the shelter cats and dogs won the day. Senate Bill No. 201 passed out of the Education Committee with a majority vote.

The bill was passed by the full Senate by a majority vote (23 yes, 11 no, 1 excused) on April 4, 2013. It was introduced for consideration in the House the next day.

On April 26, 2013, the bill was put to a full vote of the House. It passed again, with a majority vote (39 yes, 21 no, 5 excused).

SB-201 was signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and forwarded to the Governor for his consideration on May 8, 2013.

Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and cats (Felis catus) adopted from Colorado animal shelters and rescues were designated the official state pets of Colorado when Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill No. 33 on May 13, 2013.

The Act representing Senate Bill No. 201 is transcribed below.

NOTE: The governor signed this measure on 5/13/2013.

Act graphic


BY SENATOR(S) Kerr, Balmer, Guzman, Tochtrop, Aguilar, Crowder, Giron, Jones, Newell, Schwartz, Todd;
also REPRESENTATIVE(S) Pettersen, Court, Hullinghorst, Kraft-Tharp, Rankin, Tyler, Ginal, Hamner, Rosenthal, Lebsock


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

SECTION 1. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 24-80-910.5 as follows:


SECTION 2. Act subject to petition - effective date. This act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly (August 7, 2013, if adjournment sine die is on May 8, 2013); except that, if a referendum petition is filed pursuant to section 1 (3) of article V of the state constitution against this act or an item, section, or part of this act within such period, then the act, item, section, or part will not take effect unless approved by the people at the general election to be held in November 2014 and, in such case, will take effect on the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by the governor.


[ 1 ] O'Connor, Colleen. "Kids fight for abandoned dogs and cats to become Colorado state pets." The Denver Post. The Denver Post, 22 Mar 2013. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

[ 2 ] Vela, Vic. "Pet legislation stirs division." Our Colorado News. Colorado Community Media, 22 Mar 2013. Web. 15 Aug 2013.

Kerr, Andy. "SB13-201." Colorado General Assembly. State of Colorado, 10 May 2013. Web. 17 May 2013.

Additional Information

Colorado state pets
Colorado State Pets: Dogs and Cats that are Adopted
From Colorado Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups
Dog and Cat photographs, posters, prints to purchase

Adopting from an Animal Shelter or Rescue Group: The Humane Society of the United States.

The Shelter Pet Project: Search for a pet, find a shelter, learn about adoption. The Shelter Pet Project is the result of a collaborative effort between two leading animal welfare groups, The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund, and the leading producer of public service advertising (PSA) campaigns, The Ad Council. Our goal is to make shelters the first place potential adopters turn when looking to get a new pet, ensuring that all healthy and treatable pets find loving homes.

Colorado area Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups: at Petfinder.com.

Domestic Cat Felis catus: National Geographic Animals.

Domestic Dog Canis familiaris: National Geographic Animals.

Felis catus (domestic cat): The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology: Animal Diversity Web.

Canis lupus familiaris (dog): The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology: Animal Diversity Web.

Canis lupus familiaris (Dog): Encyclopedia of Life, available from http://eol.org/pages/1228387/overview. Accessed 15 Jan 2009.

Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758), Domestic Cat: A network connecting science with conservation - NatureServe Explorer: An Online Encyclopedia of Life.

Felis catus (Linnaeus, 1758): Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

Canis lupus familiaris (Linnaeus, 1758): Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

State mammals: Complete list of official state mammals from NETSTATE.COM.

More symbols & emblems: Complete list of official Colorado state symbols from NETSTATE.COM.

ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats
Complete Guide to Cats

James Richards

ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats, by James Richards. 368 pages. Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 1, 1999)

From the ASPCA, the Complete Guide to Cats, covers everything that a cat owner needs to know about choosing and caring for a kitty. Beginning in section 1 with the basics of how to bring a cat into your life (choosing your new pet, preparing your home for the new arrival), section 2 goes on to offer detailed information on cat breeds and how to decide which breed is the right one for you. Section 3 covers a brief history of the domestic feline, how the cat works (framework of bones and muscles, the organs, digestive and urinary systems, reproductive system), and understanding your cat. The final section of the guide is devoted to taking care of your cat, including keeping your kitty healthy and common feline health problems, home nursing, first aid, and special care, such as mating, pregnancy, and birth, as well as the older years.

Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
Cat Owner's Home
Veterinary Handbook

Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, by Debra M. Eldredge D.V.M., Delbert G. Carlson D.V.M., Lisa D. Carlson, D.V.M., James M. Giffin, M.D. 656 pages. Publisher: Howell Book House; 3 edition (December 10, 2007)

The most comprehensive, essential reference for every cat owner, this easy-to-use, authoritative guide provides the vital information you need to take good care of your cat in all types of situations and in all ages and stages of her life. This fully revised and updated Third Edition covers common feline problems and ailments in language you can understand.

  • An index of signs and symptoms to help you find information fast
  • Clearly written, step-by-step directions for handling common feline ailments and problems
  • Nutrition and understanding cat food labels
  • Hundreds of photos, drawings, and tables that illustrate what to look for and how to provide the best care for your cats
  • New information on genetics, geriatrics, drug sensitivities, raw diets, arthritis medications, dental disease, and more
  • Information on supplements, nutraceuticals, and holistic treatments that have proven beneficial
  • Interesting findings on cat behavior
  • Vaccine protocols
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm preventives
The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active
Healthy Dog Handbook
Betsy Brevitz D.V.M.

The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active, by Betsy Brevitz D.V.M. 496 pages. Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; 1 edition (April 16, 2009)

The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook is an essential and truly readable book for these devoted dog owners. Surpassingly clear and complete, with more than 100 illustrations and diagrams, it covers everything from choosing the best dog to puppy care, nutrition, vaccines, behavior, first aid, and senior care, plus thorough discussions of more than 100 canine illnesses.

Reflecting the latest advances in veterinary medicine, this edition offers up-to-the-minute advice on "design dog" breeds, pet food safety, homemade diets, changing vaccine protocols, new medications for allergies, car sickness, obesity, and heart disease, developments in surgery and cancer treatment, pet insurance, and more.

Before & After Getting Your Puppy
Before & After
Getting Your Puppy

Dr. Ian Dunbar

Before & After Getting Your Puppy, by Dr. Ian Dunbar. 224 pages. New World Library (April 29, 2004) In this compassionate and honest volume, the veterinarian shares his definitive opinions about the way dogs should be trained. Before & After Getting Your Puppy is a simple, practical guide for anyone bringing a new puppy into the family. In clear steps, with helpful photos and easy-to-follow training deadlines, Dr. Ian Dunbar, who pioneered puppy classes and a loving style of dog training in the 1970s, presents a structured yet playful and humorous plan for raising a wonderful dog. The guide is based on six developmental deadlines.

The Culture Clash
The Culture Clash
Jean Donaldson

The Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson. 224 pages. Publisher: James & Kenneth Publishers (January 19, 1996) The Culture Clash is special. It is utterly unique, fascinating to the extreme, and literally overflowing with information that virtually redefines the state of the art in dog behavior and training. Written in Jean's inimitably informal yet incisive lecture style, the book races along on par with a good thriller.

The Culture Clash depicts dogs as they really are -- stripped of their Hollywood fluff, with their loveable "can I eat it, chew it, urinate on it, what's in it for me" philosophy. Jean's tremendous affection for dogs shines through at all times, as does her keen insight into the dog's mind. Relentlessly she champions the dog's point of view, always showing concern for their education and well-being.

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