Community

Animal Rights Laws in Colorado are Letting the Dogs In

Small, long-haired dog wrapped in a knit blanket

Recent blasts of cold weather in Colorado may not be quite so bad for Denver cats and dogs this year. New animal rights laws are protecting pets from owners who leave them outdoors in freezing weather.

As of the start of 2019, owners who fail to provide insulated shelter for their dogs or cats in the extreme cold could face up to a fine of $999 and a year in jail. Such pet owners would be charged with cruelty to animals or animal neglect.

Denver ❤️ Dogs!

In the US, Colorado is regarded as a vital state in the rescue-dog community. The Denver area alone boasts over 100 dog and cat rescues, from small breed-specific nonprofits run by volunteers to the granddaddy of them all, the Denver Dumb Friends League help hundreds of thousands of animals every year. The pet industry, which has exploded to generating $70 billion a year has a strong foothold in the Denver. Many local restaurants and breweries have become dog-friendly, while local outdoor events such as races, concerts, and fairs welcome on-leash pups. It is not at all a stretch to say that Denver is a city of dog lovers.

A Step Forward for Animal Rights

Local trainers, dog walkers, and rescuers have commented that the new city ordinance is a positive move to help local pets.

“It is absolutely a step in the right direction,” says dog trainer Stacy Cramer. “Too often dogs have been viewed as only property, and therefore the owners couldn’t be questioned.”

The ordinance is a start to measures that protect animals from abuse and neglect. More cities around the country are enacting similar measures. And as with any city ordinance, vigilance on the part of community members is needed to help with enforcement. Neighbors who notice dogs who are kept outdoors in extreme weather conditions can now call Denver Animal Control so that the animal may be helped. Animal Control can try to educate owners about the dangers of leaving animals without proper protection.

“Many people believe in myths that dogs or cats have built-in survival mechanisms for this weather,” Cramer says. “They don’t realize that these animals can also suffer from hypothermia.”

For people in the pet industry and the animal rights community, these recent measures represent a welcome change to animals whose needs are not often recognized by law.

“These pets are our protectors and companions,” says rescue volunteer Anna Kendridge. “We owe them the chance to be safe.”