ASPCA Commends Colorado Legislature for Passing Bill to Protect People and Pets During Disasters

If signed by Gov. Polis, H.B. 24-1033 will help Colorado families with pets stay safe during natural disasters and extreme weather events
March 26, 2024

DENVER – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends Colorado lawmakers for passing H.B. 24-1033 to help ensure that state agencies include pets in all levels of disaster response planning and create dedicated pet-friendly sheltering sites to give people a safe and comfortable place to evacuate to with their pets. The bill received overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and now heads to Gov. Jared Polis, who will have 10 days to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.

Natural disasters and extreme weather events are on the rise, and wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and avalanches all pose a threat to Coloradoans and their pets. Unfortunately, lack of public preparedness, unclear state guidance, and low rate of pet-friendly emergency shelters or co-shelters – where people can take and stay with their pets – all enhance the human risks associated with any emergency response. Those who are denied shelter with their pets may refuse evacuation or evacuate without their pets and then attempt to reenter evacuation sites to rescue their animals, threatening their own safety and that of first responders.

“No one should have to make the heartbreaking choice between seeking shelter or staying with their beloved pet, and H.B. 24-1033 will ensure they don’t have to by enhancing emergency planning so Coloradoans and their pets can stay safely together when disaster strikes,” said Sabrina Pacha, ASPCA director of state legislation for the Mountain West region. “We’re grateful to the Colorado General Assembly for passing this critical bill and we urge Governor Polis to sign H.B. 24-1033 into law to protect animals and the people who risk their lives to save them.”

According to a 2023 ASPCA survey of Colorado pet owners, 80 percent planned to bring their pet(s) with them during an evacuation, but 75 percent did not have emergency housing secured, and only 33 percent had a disaster preparedness plan in place. Additionally, more than half (56 percent) indicated they would only evacuate if they could bring their pets with them. If signed into law, H.B. 24-1033 would increase disaster preparedness among pet owners, enhance public safety, reduce evacuation noncompliance, enable pet owners to manage the care of their animals during the emergency, lessen mental health issues and stress that may arise in humans and animals, and ensure a smooth intake process for evacuees with companion animals at shelters.

During the 2024 legislative session, state lawmakers also passed H.B. 24-1048, a regressive bill that would restrict access to veterinary telehealth by requiring in-person exams. This legislation comes at a time when Colorado is facing an unprecedented veterinary shortage, with more than half of Colorado pet owners reporting that they are unable to access veterinary care. Telemedicine has already become a mainstream mode of human healthcare delivery, safely and conveniently connecting more people with medical professionals, and the vast majority of Coloradoans (86 percent) are supportive of an option to use telehealth to begin a relationship with a veterinarian.

“Colorado, like much of the country, is facing a severe shortage of veterinary professionals and H.B. 24-1048 would exacerbate this crisis by restricting the tools veterinarians can use to provide treatment, making it harder for pet owners to obtain veterinary care for their pets,” said Pacha. “Veterinary telemedicine offers a lifeline to pet owners who face financial, geographic, or logistical obstacles to accessing veterinary care, and could mean the difference between accessible care or no care at all. Pet owners and the people who love them deserve access to safe, convenient telemedicine, and we urge Governor Polis to veto H.B. 24-1048 to ensure more pets get the care they need.”

For more information about the ASPCA, or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit