Awesome Stories

Colorado Names ‘Shelter Dogs’ as Official State Pet

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!




  1. northierthanthou

    May 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

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

  2. Connie Garcia

    May 17, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    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. Jessica

    May 16, 2013 at 2:24 am

    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. Laura

    May 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm

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

  5. Joan

    May 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    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. Lee

    May 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

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

  7. Michelle

    May 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    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. Maryl McAffry

    May 15, 2013 at 1:07 am

    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. Cindy Eltonhead

    May 15, 2013 at 12:42 am

    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. Wendy

    May 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm

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

  11. Terry Sheldon

    May 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm

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

  12. Bill Edelman

    May 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm

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

  13. Anne Craig

    May 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    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. Juanita Spears

    May 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    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. JenniferT

    May 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    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.

    • Anne Craig

      May 14, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      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. Cherie

    May 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

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

  17. Marcy

    May 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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

  18. SLC

    May 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    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. renata

    May 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

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

  20. Gina Wolf

    May 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    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.

    • Anne Craig

      May 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      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. Erica

    May 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm

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

  22. Michelle

    May 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    If only Denver would lift the pit bull ban…

    • Claire

      May 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

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

    • Diane Meier

      May 14, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      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.

      • Melissa

        May 14, 2013 at 6:08 pm

        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.

        • Maryl McAffry

          May 15, 2013 at 1:13 am

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

    • Rachel

      May 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      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.

    • Cameron

      May 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm


    • Rebecca

      May 15, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      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. Ina

    May 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

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

  24. Alyssa

    May 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm

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

    • Susan Baguiao

      May 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      The way to GO…………

  25. Paula Jo Szegda-Davis

    May 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Awesome job Colorado!

  26. Louise Bowie

    May 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Wow. Love you Colorado! ♥

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