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Colorado Names ‘Shelter Dogs’ as Official State Pet

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Colorado has now become the 12th state in the country to designate an official state pet. While other states have chosen specific breeds, North Carolina’s state dog is the Plott Hound, Maryland has the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Massachusetts the Boston Terrier, and Alaska with the Malamute, Colorado went in a different direction, honoring all shelter dogs (and cats, too!) as their official state pet.

So, no matter what breed a dog is in Colorado, if he was adopted from a shelter, he’s an official state pet.

The bill was originally proposed by a group of Colorado school children in an effort to teach them about the state legislative system.

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law alongside his own rescue dog, Sky.

The law wasn’t passed without opposition, though. Not surprisingly, lobbyists for purebred dogs and pet store puppies fought the bill. One opponent even suggested that the bill discriminated against reptiles and birds that can also be pets.

Governor Hickenlooper also signed another important bill supporting dogs into law – one that requires all police officers to undergo training in dog behavior and handling to avoid unnecessary dog deaths. Many high-profile cases of dogs being shot by police under questionable circumstances spurred the new law.

Big kudos to the state of Colorado for both honoring rescued dogs and for protecting our family pets!

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  1. Excellent move. A mutt from a pound is better than a pure breed any day of the week.

    • Avatar Of Djjiojihwq



      All dogs need a home! yes, dogs from shelters are good but pure breeds and mutts both types need a home

  2. Avatar Of Connie Garcia

    Connie Garcia


    Thank You Governor and the many that worked on getting this bill thru‼ Shelter Pets the State Pet, super. Yes Denver now Ban the Pit Bull Ban. Me and my gentle little girl would be ecstatic‼

  3. Avatar Of Jessica



    I just want to comment and answer a few things that have been said. As one of the people who helped pass the shelter bill, I completely agree that BSLs are horrible. I live in Denver and vote according to council person’s stance on our ridiculous pit bill ban. That said, I need to clarify that Colorado itself has a law saying that you cannot have a breed ban. Certain cities, like Denver, have fought the law saying they have home-rule status that means they don’t have to follow certain state laws.

    I hope this brings more people to adopt dogs and cats (and pitties in cities that allow them) and that it leads us to being able to overturn BSL bans in all cities!

  4. Avatar Of Laura



    Thank you Governor Hickenlooper for honoring shelter dogs and protecting family pets!

  5. Avatar Of Joan



    First, WAY TO GO COLORADO! One more reason I live here!

    Next, here’s the downside to a breed ban.

    My daughter, who wanted to get her master’s degree in Public Health at CU-Denver in Aurora decided to move to AUSTIN and go to the University of Texas. She felt like she couldn’t live here and be close enough to campus with her pit/boxer mix.

    So we’re buying a HOUSE IN AUSTIN instead of Denver or Aurora. Bummer, huh?

  6. Avatar Of Lee



    OK, Colorado, I DEFINITELY want to move there now! 2 years, and I’m coming, with my shelter pets. You rock!

  7. Avatar Of Michelle



    Does this new bill bring with it the implication that no shelter animals can be put down? I just think of the example in here in Texas; the state flower is the Blue Bonnet and you are NOT permitted to pick them. Same as hunting the bald eagle (which is endangered anyway and has double protection). I’m just curious. If it’s true then it’s an even bigger step forward than the article implies! 🙂

  8. Avatar Of Maryl Mcaffry

    Maryl McAffry


    Congratulations Colorado! Thank you for lighting the way for homeless
    pets across the country. Attention like this is badly needed in the US.
    All your citizens should be proud.

  9. Avatar Of Cindy Eltonhead

    Cindy Eltonhead


    What about Pit Bulls? One of my favorite breeds, yet so misunderstood by society! Our Pit is more loving than any dog I’ve ever had!!!!!!!

  10. Avatar Of Wendy



    Now can colorado get rid of BSL and not ban pit bulls…now that would be a victory

  11. Avatar Of Terry Sheldon

    Terry Sheldon


    If Colorado is such a pet-friendly state, why do they practice breed-specific discrimination and ban loving pit bulls in Denver?

  12. Avatar Of Bill Edelman

    Bill Edelman


    I have cats right now, but I love dogs, too. Rescues are the best. Hats off to Colorado and its outstanding governor!

  13. Avatar Of Anne Craig

    Anne Craig


    Colorado is the example for the rest of us! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    On behalf of all the shelter pets, many who never make it out alive, God Bless You!

  14. Avatar Of Juanita Spears

    Juanita Spears


    I am soo happy this passed. Thank you to all who worked to make this succeed and thank you to the children who proposed it.

  15. Avatar Of Jennifert



    Way to go. Shelter pets apparently DON’T include pit bulls, which Denver has no concerns over killing for NO reason other than the way they look. Doesn’t matter the dog’s behavior, or even if it saved a bus load of kids from a fiery death. If it looks like their definition of ‘pit bull’, it dies. Yay Colorado.

    • Avatar Of Anne Craig

      Anne Craig


      Jennifer is that true? My God, work to change it! Start petitions, contact politicians and gather information that proves them wrong and publish it. Be a one woman warrior! People will follow. I love Pitties!

  16. Avatar Of Cherie



    wwwooo wwwhhhooo The Shelter animals and I say THANK YOU to the state of Colorado

  17. Avatar Of Marcy Marcy says:

    Wow Proud o be a native of CO. Please we need to get the banning of the precious Pitbulls off too.

  18. Avatar Of Slc



    to this uneducated opponent, “One opponent even suggested that the bill discriminated against reptiles and birds that can also be pets.”
    If you adopted your reptile, bird, or rodent from a shelter (and yes some shelters in Colorado have them), guess what? It’s a state pet. Duh!

  19. Avatar Of Renata



    This is great!!! I have just decided where will be my next vacation destination… 😉

  20. Avatar Of Gina Wolf

    Gina Wolf


    So many things to like about this story! Schoolchildren proposed it? GREAT! Governor signed it? GREAT! Governor has a rescue dog? GREAT! Governor signs another bill mandating further training for peace officers in dealing with dogs? GREAT! Now, if we could just work on that pit bull ban in Denver… All in all, really progressive, substantial news.

    • Avatar Of Anne Craig

      Anne Craig


      They have a Pittie ban? That is so wrong! Work to change it, contact Pittie rescues and get help. My Chihuahua will bite you much quicker than a Pittie. Bad owners, not bad dogs!

  21. Avatar Of Erica



    Now if they could only get rid of the BSL on ‘Pitt bulls’

  22. Avatar Of Michelle



    If only Denver would lift the pit bull ban…

    • Avatar Of Claire



      I know! Seriously. Maybe this is a step in that direction? One could only hope…

    • Avatar Of Diane Meier Diane Meier says:

      That’s exactly what I was thinking! This would be more meaningful if Colorado would ban discriminatory BSL that hurts Pit Bull type dogs and their families.

      • Avatar Of Melissa



        Just to be clear, Colorado does not have a ban against Pit Bulls. Denver County has a ban. While I agree, it would be nice to have it overturned, there are many places in our lovely state where you can happily own Pit Bulls and many animal shelters that adopt them out.

        • Avatar Of Maryl Mcaffry

          Maryl McAffry


          That’s a relief but are the comments true that the pits are automatically killed in Denver?

    • Avatar Of Rachel



      Seriously. I have two bully-breed type dogs, and they are the sweetest things on the planet. No bad dogs, just bad owners!

      Denver’s legislation is so awful, too – based completely on appearances. If it looks like a pit, or someone thinks it is a pit, it’s illegal.

      Never mind that so many shelter dogs are pit mixes.

    • Avatar Of Cameron




    • Avatar Of Rebecca



      That was the first thing I thought of. But I wanted to salute Colorado for at least what they have done right. Maybe they can confine the Denverites to their own city and ban them from the rest of the state.

  23. Avatar Of Ina



    WOO HOO! A huge shout-out to Colorado and Governor Hickenlooper!

  24. Avatar Of Alyssa



    This warms my heart – great job, Colorado! Way to lead the pack!

  25. Avatar Of Paula Jo Szegda-Davis

    Paula Jo Szegda-Davis


    Awesome job Colorado!

  26. Avatar Of Louise Bowie

    Louise Bowie


    Wow. Love you Colorado! ♥

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