The United States Association of Reptile Keepers has just fought and won a battle that would have seen Colorado House Bill 24-1163 add a new tax of up to $8.50 on every household pet owned in the state, including cats, dogs, fish, reptiles and even invertebrates.
According to USARK, the bill which would have been heard on February 22, 2024, required the tax to be paid every year. It also requires every pet to be registered with the State and assigned a “designated caregiver.” And if you didn’t name a “designated caregiver,” the cost for each pet would rise to $25 annually. There is no cap or per-household type of maximum taxation. This would also be in addition to any local taxes (like dog licenses).
“To summarize how outrageous that is,” says USARK, “if someone has 100 aquarium fish or koi in a water garden, they could be paying $850 annually to have those fish. If you do not register a “designated caregiver” with the State that means having 100 aquarium fish will cost you $2,500 annually! Ten pet reptiles will cost $85 to $250 annually. 20 assorted pets (dog, cat, hamster, parakeet, tarantula, 2 snakes, three frogs, and 10 fish) would be $170 to $500 each year for this new tax. This tax would apply to all “pet animals.” A child with an ant farm (ants are invertebrates)… get ready to pay big for those pet ants, parents!”
As part of the new Bill, the new “online pet animal registration system” would be created and maintained by the Department of Agriculture. The penalty for not registering your animals would be up to $100 per animal (“per unlawful act or violation”). And if a good citizen is unaware of this new law, those 100 unregistered aquarium or water garden fish could cost $10,000 in fines!
The bill does not state any exemption for Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act (PACFA) Program registered animal breeders/sellers. So the tax could apply to each animal in those facilities that is over six months old. However, those animals under PACFA should not be included since the definition of “pet animal” includes the text, “that is sold, transferred, or retained for the purpose of being kept as a household pet.”
The only animals exempt are “livestock” e.g. cows, horses, sheep, poultry, etc. other working animals on a farm or ranch, and animals raised for “food or fiber production.”
USARK says the bill claims it will “connect pet animals with their owners and designated caregivers when and after emergencies occur, and protect pet animals by supporting animal shelters that are caretakers of last resort.” The bill is titled the “PET ANIMAL REGISTRATION ACT” and it was introduced by Representative Regina English.
The bill was due to be heard on February 22, 2024, with the House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee. However, due to overwhelming opposition, the bill has been pulled by its sponsor. USARK produced an email that concerned pet owners could send to Colorado legislators, and the good news is, that opposition from pet lovers (and key voters,) has seen the bill get pulled before it even gets heard.
What we think
Reef Builders is pro-pet, we love animals, we have dedicated our lives to their study, and we uphold our right to keep and care for them in our homes. Pet care is constantly under attack worldwide from parties who seek to prevent people from owning and caring for animals, both domesticated and wild, and though we respect everyone’s rights, opinions, and democracy, this latest Bill does seem to pluck figures and financial sums out of thin air, leaving the legislators themselves having to pay $8.50 per animal for their pet cat, dog, hamster, goldfish and sea monkey.
We are glad to see that the Bill has been shot down before the hearing, we welcome the hard work by USARK and other similar organizations, but sadly we are not surprised.