By Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) – A bill that would have created stricter regulations for the retail sale of puppies and kittens failed in the House Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee by a five to six vote. The bill would have also capped the number of dogs and cats that could be bred in a facility.

National Mill Dog rescue

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The vote came late Monday night after the committee heard nearly four hours of testimony on the bill from supporters and opponents in the capitol’s Old State Library room.

Talks of the bill, dubbed the Humane Pet Act, have been underway since September 2019, after CBS4 reported more cases of families who bought puppies from local pet stores, only for them to get sick and die not long after. It’s an issue CBS4 has covered since 2002.

Some believe those puppies were sick because they were bred in the poor conditions of puppy mills, where diseases can spread easily.

“There is no reason that Colorado pet stores should be able to continue sourcing from breeders that don’t meet Colorado’s standards of care,” said Amy Jesse, of the Humane Society of the United States, in her testimony at Monday’s hearing.

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Even 8-year-old Rocco Verretta, of Denver, spoke in favor of the bill after reading about puppy mills in school.

“Just simply, the dogs or kittens aren’t treated well, with the respect they deserve, and all of this makes me sad,” said Verretta.

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The original version of the bill intended to completely ban the retail of sale of puppies and kittens, but in efforts to compromise, the bill’s sponsor amended the bill to only create stronger regulations on retail sales.

Regardless, some pet store owners and breeders spoke against the bill, saying it would put them out of business.

“I would urge you to vote no on this bill, I don’t see where you’re doing the Colorado consumer any favor,” Theresa Cloud, an owner of a large breeding facility, said.

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Pet store owner Renee Reese also spoke against the bill Monday afternoon.

“We don’t do anything wrong. I’m proud of what we do. I’m proud of the breeders that we use,” Reese said. “I don’t think there is a reason to put us out of business.”

Reese also contended the bill could reduce the amount of options for people seeking specific breeds in Colorado.

“I’m proud that we do a service, and I believe that passing this bill would do a disservice to the disabled people and people with allergies in Colorado’s communities,” Reese said.

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CBS4 is told the bill’s sponsor may examine the possibility of introducing another version of the legislation in next year’s session.

Kati Weis