What if shelters could adopt out 90 percent of their animals they care instead of putting them down? That's the goal of Initiative 68, a proposal known as "Restrictions on Pet Animal Euthanasia" that would raise the resources necessary to help shelters reach that goal. If 68 makes it to the ballot and passes, Colorado would become the first official no-kill state in the country.
Here's the wording on the proposed ballot measure:
Shall state taxes be increased $6,275,000 annually in the first fiscal year and by such amounts that are raised thereafter by imposition of a 15 percent tax on the sale price of pet animals to fund programs and services to address pet overpopulation, and, in connection therewith, amending the Colorado Revised Statutes to prohibit pet animal care facilities from euthanizing pets except in limiting circumstance; imposing a monetary penalty for each violation of the euthanasia prohibition, allowing persons to bring court actions to enforce compliance with and penalize violations of the euthanasia prohibition, and using certain fees and penalties collected to make grants for programs and services to address pet overpopulation?
Initiative proponents believe that a 15 percent fee on commercial pet sales would raise more than $6 million annually, providing the resources and training needed for shelters to adopt out more animals. Under this measure, the only animals that could be put down are those that are too sick or too aggressive to be rehabilitated back into society.
Juliet Piccone, a proponent of the initiative and an animal law attorney, says 68 would change an existing law to add stronger criteria when it comes to animals that can be euthanized -- and put money behind the movement. Currently, the Colorado Overpopulation Fund, which was created by the state legislature, has only about $180,000 to help curb animal overpopulation.
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But there's opposition to the initiative from a surprising source: shelters. Representatives say they're already doing the best they can, Piccone explains, and worry that the proposal would tie their hands. Proponents worked to accommodate their concerns as they created the proposal, but they couldn't get shelter reps to a meeting. "We tried to meet with them, but they won't sit and talk," Piccone says.
The initiative wording wasn't approved by the courts until early June, leaving the campaign little time to collect the required 84,000-plus signatures. If 68 doesn't make it to the ballot this year, Piccone says backers will try again next year. In the meantime, they're hoping that tomorrow's screening of Redemption, a documentary about the no-kill movement in the United States, will help their cause. The program screens at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, in the Denver Post Auditorium.
Find more information on Initative 68 on the Saving Shelter Pets Inc. website. To learn more about all the initiatives proposed for the November 4 election, go to the Colorado Secretary of State website.