A bill known as HB24-1163 has been introduced by the state legislature, which proposes the implementation of a ‘pet tax’ on all non-livestock animals in the state.
Regina English, a Democrat, is sponsoring this bill that mandates pet owners to register their animals through a state-operated system. However, many opponents argue that the associated fees are excessively high and deemed unnecessary.
The proposed Pet Animal Registration System, as outlined in the ‘Pet Animal Registration Act’, requires pet owners to register their pets annually. However, the fee structure associated with this registration seems to disproportionately burden those who may not have the financial means to pay.
Under this system, pets with a designated caregiver would incur a fee of $8.50, while unneutered or unspayed pets with a caregiver would face a higher fee of $16.
Pets without a caregiver would be subject to an even more substantial fee of $25. This could place significant financial strain on households with multiple pets, as well as breeders and sellers who are responsible for numerous animals over six months old.
It is important to note that these fees apply not only to common household pets such as dogs and cats but also extend to a wide range of animals including reptiles, amphibians, fish, and even invertebrates.
No pet owner would be exempt from these charges. To illustrate the potential financial burden imposed by this system, let’s consider an example: A family with 100 aquarium fish could end up paying up to $2,500 annually if they do not have designated caregivers for each individual fish.
Furthermore, a diverse assortment of 20 pets consisting of a dog, cat, hamster, several reptiles and fish could result in annual taxes ranging from $170 to $500.
Even something as simple as keeping an ant farm for a child could introduce significant financial strain due to this legislation.
The Department of Agriculture is responsible for establishing and maintaining an online pet animal registration system.
Non-compliance can lead to steep penalties including fines up to $100 per unregistered animal. In extreme cases where someone unknowingly fails to register their aquarium fish, they could potentially face fines totaling up to $10,000.
While the bill claims its purpose is to ensure that pets are connected with their owners or caregivers during emergencies – an admirable goal – the method chosen, namely a tax, has been met with skepticism.
Many pet owners are questioning the true motives behind this registration system and view it as an intrusive intrusion into their private lives.
The additional financial burden may discourage potential pet owners from adopting animals in need, potentially placing greater strain on animal shelters.
Opponents of the bill are preparing for a battle as the hearing is scheduled for February 22 at the State Capitol.
They argue that this legislation is merely a thinly veiled attempt to generate revenue rather than a genuine effort to improve animal welfare.
By implementing this ‘pet tax’, Colorado is establishing a dangerous precedent where animal companionship becomes a luxury only available to those willing to pay for government surveillance of their pets.
Read the bill summary:
The bill requires the commissioner of the department of agriculture (commissioner) to develop, implement, and maintain an online pet animal registration system (system).
The bill establishes the pet animal registration enterprise (enterprise) in the department of agriculture to provide business services to pet animal owners who pay pet registration fees to the enterprise by developing, implementing, maintaining, and administering the pet animal registration system, connecting pet animals with their owners and designated caregivers when and after emergencies occur, and protecting pet animals by supporting animal shelters that are caretakers of last resort.
A pet animal owner must register the pet animal in the system annually for a fee set by the enterprise, which must be no more than $8.50 annually per pet animal with a designated caregiver, $16 annually per pet animal that is a dog or cat that is not neutered or spayed and has a designated caregiver, and $25 annually per pet animal without a designated caregiver. The fee set by the enterprise is in addition to any pet registration or licensing fee assessed by any other jurisdiction. The enterprise will collect both state and local fees and transmit any fee levied by another jurisdiction to that jurisdiction and the fee levied by the state to the newly created pet animal registration cash fund. The state’s fee will be used to develop, implement, maintain, and administer the system and reimburse animal shelters for the cost of taking custody of a pet animal for which a caregiver cannot be located or has refused to take custody.
The bill also requires a pet animal owner to designate a caregiver for the owner’s pet animal. The caregiver is responsible for the care and safekeeping of the pet animal during an emergency that incapacitates the pet animal owner. First responders will use the system to identify the designated caregiver of the pet animal and notify the caregiver of the incapacitation of the pet animal’s owner. A caregiver must agree to be responsible for the pet animal. If a caregiver later refuses to take custody of the pet animal or cannot be located, a first responder will place the pet animal in an animal shelter. Only first responders and the department of public health and environment are allowed to use the system.
The bill specifies that to own a pet animal without registering the pet animal; to refuse or fail to comply with the provisions of the bill; to make a material misstatement in a registration application, a registration renewal application, or to the department of agriculture; or to refuse or fail to comply with any rules or regulations adopted by the commissioner is unlawful. An unlawful act is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount set by the commissioner but not to exceed $100 per unlawful act. If the commissioner is unable to collect the civil penalty, the commissioner may sue to recover the civil penalty or refuse to renew a registration.