2020 Leg Session, Featured, Gold Dome, Politics, Sherrie Peif

Supporters say pet grooming and boarding bill would level the playing field; require big online outfits to be licensed and inspected

DENVER — A bill making its way through the Senate would change the way pet boarding, grooming and animal rescue facility licenses and fees are managed.

Senate Bill 20-142, sponsored by Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, is scheduled to be heard in committee for the first time at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee in Senate Committee Room 357.

The assigned committee doesn’t leave it much hope for passage, though. State, Veterans & Military Affairs is the committee where bills not deemed favorable by Senate leadership generally are assigned to “die.”

Its likely demise is unfortunate says one of its biggest supporters and the woman who worked with Marble on the language of the bill.

“They may kill it, but people in my industry are being preyed upon by this body,” Said Calida Troxell. “Getting this bill written is a huge step in-and-of-itself to just let them know that we are starting to unite.”

Troxell has owned and operated Lazy Dog Ranch and Dapper Dog Salon in Fort Collins since 1996. She said the Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act (PACFA) put in place a regulatory body that has the complete authority to write its own rules and fees.

Fees skyrocketed, Troxell said, after Rover.com successfully lobbied legislators to exempt its caregivers from the fees. Rover.com is an online service that pairs animal owners with in-home sitters for short- and long-term care.

Because Rover.com caregivers don’t pay a fee, they are not inspected by the state, opening up the possibility of health and safety issues, Troxell said.

“PACFA raised the fees on the rest of us and then tried to convince us that it was going to (impact) so few people that it wouldn’t make a health and safety or demand impact on the industry,” Troxell said. “Well, it did.”

SB 142 puts Rover.com providers back into the mix of caregivers that must pay the fees. It also caps facility fees at $500 and brings the fees a self-employed groomer pays down to $50 when they contract to work inside an already licensed facility. It also would exempt non-profit rescue centers from paying the fees.

Currently, PACFA double dips on fees. Troxell said she pays $600 or more in fees as the business owner. Then, each independent contractor working inside her facility also pays $350 a year.

Non-profit rescues pay $400 or more in addition to a transport license fee to both the state and the federal government.

“PACFA fee structure has a zillion categories,” Troxell said. “This bill basically brings exempt providers into the system at a lower fee category, so that they will be inspected. It lowers the burden on independent contractor groomers. It caps facility fees to create stability, and it provides some monetary relief to 501(c)3 rescues.”

Most states don’t have a system like PACFA in place, Troxell said, because animal husbandry laws already have enough teeth in their regulations.

“I have been asking for this for a long time,” Troxell said. “It has been a long time coming. Vicki and I are realistic, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

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