Proposed state bill banning animal abusers from owning pets at a standstill

DENVER - An animal cruelty conviction could prevent you from owning a pet. That's according to a bill moving through committee at the State Capitol. Right now, the bill is on hold which the committee waits for some amendments. They'll vote at a later date.

Representative Alex Valdez is the bill's sponsor. He says this piece of legislation has multiple components. He says it's about protecting animals, but also about saving lives.

“It brings out the passions in people," Representative Alex Valdez said.

If passed, the law would allow judges to ban people from owning an animal if they've been convicted of animal cruelty. If it's a misdemeanor charge, that ban would be one to five years. For a felony, it could be up to 10 years.

The Dumb Friends League is on board with the proposed law, along with dozens of other people who were at the Capitol on Thursday.

There are also people opposed to the bill including an animal rights advocate.

“It’s only going halfway, it hasn’t been fully thought through," Maxine Mager said. “One of the things I’d like to see is more education for when a juvenile gets in trouble, and not just for the juvenile but for the juvenile and the family”

As written, juveniles could get their animals taken away too, but Mager says that's not enough.

Another big component to the bill is a mental health treatment requirement for everyone in Colorado found guilty of animal cruelty.

“For a long time, I’ve been able to try and draw the correlation between violence against animals and violence against people, and this bill just gives us an opportunity to deal with that," Valdez said. “In a really constructive way that helps the people that are committing the crimes to get the help that they need to not become violent against people.”

When it comes to enforcement, there will be no database for animal cruelty offenders at pet stores or breeders. We're told this bill would only come up in court when someone is found guilty of animal cruelty.

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