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Senate considers bill protecting animals from people convicted for animal cruelty

Posted: 7:41 AM, Apr 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-11 17:33:31-04
Abused Puppy
A News5 employee shared this photo of a puppy adopted years ago after learning it was the victim of animal abuse and dumping. (KOAA)

DENVER – A bill designed to prevent anyone convicted of animal cruelty charges from owning an animal for 5 to 10 years has just one more vote to pass out of the Colorado Senate and possibly head for the desk of Governor Polis.

HB19-1092,  passed out of the House on a vote of 55-7.

Under this measure, an adult convicted of a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge will be prevented from owning an animal for 5 years. An adult convicted of felony animal cruelty will be prevented from owning an animal for 10 years.

As for juvenile defendants, the law calls for a ban on owning animals for 5 years, no matter the level of conviction.

If passed, the new law would apply not only to people convicted of aggravated cruelty towards pets, but would apply to abusers of service animals or livestock. Before sentencing, a court would be required to have a violator undergo an evaluation to determine if they should undergo a treatment program, such as anger management.  There’s also a minimum $500 fine.

A repeat offender who commits an offense against an animal, service animal, certified police working dog or certified police working horse would be required to undergo anger management or mental health treatment program.

Violating the ownership restrictions post-conviction would result in a misdemeanor charge with a $5,000 fine for the first violation and a $10,000 fine for each repeat violation.

There is a clause in the bill’s text that would allow a judge to consider a recommendation from a treatment provider, on behalf of a defendant, that a ban on animal ownership should not be put in place.

The bill is now known as “Punky’s Law” in honor of sponsor Alex Valdez’s (D-Colorado) recent loss of a beloved dog. The dog’s death is in no way related to animal cruelty.

The process for a bill to become law in Colorado includes introduction in the House or Senate, consideration by committees in both chambers, and 3 votes for passage in each chamber before heading back for consideration of amendments before being considered for signature into law by the Governor.