COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A proposed new Colorado law could make it illegal to sell cats and dogs in pet stores. The bill proposes several changes to the way breeders do business and would keep cats and dogs out of flea markets and pet stores.
Still, some organizations say the bill is targeting the wrong people and will only push these pets into a black market.
It's called "The Humane Pet Act" or HB20-1084. The bill's sponsors, including Rep. Monica Duran, are hoping to establish care standards for breeders and put puppy mills out of business.
"If I were to keep my dog in those exact same conditions in my backyard here in Denver I could get arrested for animal cruelty," said Rory Kress.
Kress is a journalist, author and the proud pet parent of Izzy, a golden doodle. She literally wrote the book on the subject ("The Doggie in the Window") after exploring Izzy's origins and realizing she was the product of a puppy mill.
So what is a puppy mill?
"There's no legal definition of what a puppy mill actually is but there is some legal precedent. In one case it was defined by a court as any facility that puts profit over the humane care of the animals," she said.
"I really bought the lie that a lot of consumers do at pet shops which is - we source out dogs from USDA licensed facilities, so they can't be puppy mills. The US Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects most facilities nationwide and so what you're kind of getting there is the lie that puppy mills, you know, everything is thoroughly legal. They're actually not in most cases. What you think, what you imagine when you think of a puppy mill is more often than not legal and inspected using your taxpayer dollars by the US Department of Agriculture," Kress said.
Kress says the current system is shameful, with dogs being held in small enclosures, forced to over-breed - then discarded. Still, other dogs are victims of inbreeding, with lines that produce dogs with health issues.
"When you think about the breeds that we treasure, they're inbred really. That's how you get a Golden Retriever or a Yorkie. So you may purchase a $2000-3000 dog at a pet shop and nobody's checked that it doesn't come from a line that has serious genetic problems for generations," Kress said.
She says the proposed bill is a step in the right direction.
"We need state action the only needle that we're going to move right now is at the state level," she said.
The bill is not supported by the American Kennel Club. They say making life harder on breeders will only push shady industries further underground, saying in part:
"The AKC supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities."
If this law were to pass, Colorado would be the second state after California to ban cats and dogs from being sold at pet stores.