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Colo. Legislature Introduces Bill to Strengthen Puppy Mill Regulations

The Humane Society of the United States

On Wednesday, State Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, introduced legislation to strengthen protections for dogs at commercial mass breeding operations known as puppy mills. The bill is supported by The Humane Society of the United States and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Puppy mills are commercial breeding facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care.

"I am pleased to be introducing a bill that seeks to ensure that dogs that are kept for breeding in Colorado are treated in a safe and humane manner," said Rep. McCann. "Colorado is not a state that will tolerate abuse of animals. This bill should also send a message to those outside of Colorado that we do not welcome those who mistreat their animals. I am confident that members of the legislature will agree that we need to protect our dogs and puppies and join me in making sure dogs are safe and happy in Colorado."

Currently, Colorado has a statewide law meant to regulate puppy mills, but it does nothing to limit the size of the facilities. Puppy mills can range in size from a dozen dogs to thousands of dogs, often stacked in wire cages, without exercise, socialization or human companionship.

"This legislation will crack down on abusive puppy mills where man's best friend is treated like a cash crop," said Holly Tarry, The HSUS' Colorado state director. "The Humane Society of the United States and its 166,000 Colorado members are grateful for Representative McCann's dedication to this important animal welfare legislation."

The amended Pet Animal Care & Facilities Act will prevent mass dog breeding operations from maintaining more than 25 adult breeding dogs. Reputable hobby breeders and breeders who maintain 25 or fewer adult breeding dogs would not be impacted. By limiting the size of the facilities, the legislation will help ensure more humane living conditions and enable humane investigators to more effectively and efficiently deal with complaints about dogs living in squalid conditions and receiving inadequate care. Other states, including Louisiana and Virginia, have already passed similar legislation limiting the number of dogs in breeding facilities.

The new legislation would also prohibit dog breeders from maintaining a license if they have previously been convicted of animal cruelty and would mandate annual certification by a licensed veterinarian that a dog is healthy before the dog may be bred.

Puppy mills drain state resources and directly contribute to pet overpopulation. Investigations have shown repeatedly that there are inhumane puppy mill operations in many states, yet the current laws are often inadequate to address the scope of the problem. In addition, The Humane Society of the United States estimates that U.S. animal shelters care for between 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats every year of whom approximately half are euthanized. The International City/County Management Association Animal Control Management Guide suggests that cities and counties budget between $4 to $7 per capita for animal control programs. The impact of pet overpopulation is a humane crisis as well as a financial one.


  • The HSUS estimates that 2 million to 4 million puppy mill puppies are sold each year in the United States.
  • Puppy mill puppies often have health problems, genetic defects and behavioral issues.
  • Documented puppy mill conditions include over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor food and shelter, crowded cages and lack of socialization.
  • Dogs kept for breeding in puppy mills suffer for years in continual confinement. They are bred as often as possible and then destroyed or discarded once they can no longer produce puppies.
  • Pet stores and puppy mills often use attractive Web sites to hide the truth and to dupe the public into thinking that they are dealing with a small, reputable breeder.
  • Reputable breeders never sell puppies over the Internet or through a pet store and will insist on meeting the family who will be purchasing the dog.
  • Puppy mills contribute to the pet overpopulation problem which results in millions of unwanted dogs euthanized at shelters every year.

To learn more about puppy mills, visit humanesociety.org/puppymills or aspca.org/puppymills.


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501[c][3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series "Animal Precinct" on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit aspca.org

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