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Colorado lawmakers discussing banning sales of dogs and cats at pet stores

New bill recently introduced in the State House
Puppies from national pet store chain sicken 39 people, officials say
Posted at 9:03 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2023-11-21 16:45:58-05

DENVER -- Buying puppies and kittens from a Colorado pet store could soon be a thing of the past.

That's because a Colorado woman has been pushing a measure called the Humane Pet Act, with the goal to eventually shut down puppy mills across the country.

The bill is now making its way through the legislature. Similar measures have already passed in Maryland and California.

But not everyone is on board.

Joyce Cohen is a Breckenridge activist on a mission to save puppies and kittens.

"I just love animals," she said. "I've gotten Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon, Eagle, and Fairplay... and I've got two more in the hopper," she said.

Cohen has already persuaded several Colorado mountain towns to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores — with the ultimate goal of shutting down puppy mills nationwide.

"It's a bill that does ban the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. Pet stores are the ones that buy from puppy mills," said Cohen.

She said puppies are often mass bred in horrible conditions. Many have hidden ailments that lead to early sickness and death. Last week, she joined Rep. Monica Duran, D-Jefferson County, and first gentleman Marlon Reis to introduce a bill to completely ban pet store sales of cats and dogs statewide.

"This bill is about humane treatment of animals. Really, who wouldn't go for that?" Cohen said.

But Brianna Baldwin, who manages "Just for Pets" in Lone Tree said all pet stores aren't the same. The bill is a major threat to small businesses.

"Being family-owned here, it's just going to kill them. It's going to make them bankrupt. We won't even be able to compete," said Baldwin.

She said the store sells 110 puppies and kittens a month.

The shop gets their animals from reputable breeders out of state, and all animals are inspected by a vet before coming to the store.

"We have to get them from licensed breeders. They have to be constantly inspected as well," Baldwin said.

Baldwin believes if the animals go, so does her business, and countless others.

Cohen disagrees.

"Research has shown pet stores can make more money per square foot selling pet supplies and grooming services," said Cohen.

But Baldwin said there are a lot of gray areas. Changing her business model to only sell supplies would put her shop in competition with national pet stores. She said that's a battle she can't win.

"It's going to be really hard to compete with PetSmart or Petco," she said. "We would just have to close down all together."