Even when — as is the case more often than not — simply getting the animal out of the pound can resolve any concerns.

Mr. Pickles — young, healthy, friendly, already neutered — should have had everything going for him; his stay at an American shelter in one of the richest and most cosmopolitan communities in the world a temporary waystation to a better life. Unfortunately, he entered a pound that did not revere life, did not hold staff accountable to results, and found killing easier than doing what was necessary to stop it. Within a few short days, and without ever being made available for adoption, he drew his last breath. Staff at the pound that practices “socially conscious animal sheltering” poisoned him with an overdose of barbiturates.

Last year, the Denver Dumb Friends League, the flagship of the regressive sheltering establishment in Colorado, lied to the media, the public, and legislators by claiming that there isn’t a single pound in the state that kills animals: “There are no kill shelters in Colorado.” Worse, the organization and its allies introduced legislation to legitimize the status quo. The bill went by the Orwellian name the “Colorado Socially Conscious Sheltering Act,” which is a euphemism for a poorly run pound that kills animals in the face of common-sense, cost-effective, readily-available alternatives it simply refuses to implement. Thankfully, and rightly, the bill died in committee.

Tragically, it has been revived this year.

The newly introduced bill legitimizes the killing of animals if a shelter says it is out of room, does not require foster care, community cat sterilization, offsite adoptions or any number of other programs that replace killing with alternatives, and defines treatable animals very narrowly. Worst of all, it calls upon animals to be killed based on an animal’s “mental and emotional” state. Not only is there no objective definition of what constitutes mental suffering and no standards to how it will be applied, it legitimizes the killing of animals based on the animals’ perceived state of mind, giving people unqualified to make such a determination discretion to kill animals based on unenforceable, unknowable, and completely subjective criteria, even when — as is the case more often than not — simply getting the animal out of the pound can resolve any “mental and emotional” concerns. This a real and immediate threat to shy and scared animals, as well as community (“feral”) cats and it is a very dangerous precedent to introduce in the animal control laws of our nation.

Because it excuses killing, however, “socially conscious animal sheltering” is, not surprisingly, embraced by some of the most regressive agencies in the state and country. This includes pounds — like the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control (LACDACC) — that allow animals to starve, refuse to embrace programs that replace killing like community cat sterilization, and do not hold even abusive employees accountable. 

Take Mr. Pickles, a little cat surrendered by his family to the LACDACC. Although initially scared, Mr. Pickles turned out to be very sweet, rubbing up against the bars of his cage when volunteers or staff walked by and calling out to them with a soft meow. He was so pliable, in fact, a volunteer put Mr. Potato Head glasses on him, caressed his orange face, and snapped his photo to show others how cute he was.

Mr. Pickles — young, healthy, friendly, already neutered — should have had everything going for him; his stay at an American shelter in one of the richest and most cosmopolitan communities in the world a temporary waystation to a better life. Unfortunately, he entered a pound that did not revere life, did not hold staff accountable to results, and found killing easier than doing what was necessary to stop it. Within a few short days, and without ever being made available for adoption, he drew his last breath. Staff at the pound poisoned him with an overdose of barbiturates.

Embrace of “socially conscious animal sheltering” also includes groups like PETA, which has a history of stealing animals to kill, instructing its staff to lie to people in order to acquire and kill their animals, undercounting the amount of sodium pentobarbital it uses in order to kills animals “off book,” defending poorly performing, even abusive, pounds, rounding up to kill healthy cats and kittens, demonizing cats to fight progressive programs like community cat sterilization as an alternative to that killing, and putting to death as many as 99% of the animals it impounds, while only adopting out 1%. 

If you live in Colorado, now is the time to make your voice heard. Please contact your state Representative and urge a No vote on HB 21-1160.

Also contact Representative Monica Duran, the bill’s sponsor, and politely ask her to withdraw it: monica.duran.house@gmail.com. Legislators rely on lobbyists and constituents and rarely have any real working knowledge about their own bills. This appears to be one of those cases.

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