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BAP authority and Colorado’s animal protection laws


The authority of Bureau of Animal Protection (BAP) agents and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to enforce Colorado’s animal protection statutes is described in the Animal Protection Act, Article 42, Title 35 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (the Act).

Under this Act, Commissioned BAP agents can conduct investigations related to animal mistreatment and issue summons and complaints, typically in partnership with local law enforcement. Only local law enforcement and CDA BAP agents can investigate complaints related to livestock.

Under the Act, the CDA Commissioner has authority to issue a cease-and-desist order when the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe a violation of the Act  has occurred and when immediate enforcement is deemed necessary.  

The Commissioner may also seek temporary or permanent injunctive relief to enforce compliance with the Act. The Commissioner may take charge of, provide for, or remove any companion animal, as well as any livestock animal pursuant to court order, found to be mistreated or neglected to such degree or abandoned in any circumstance so that the animal’s life or health is endangered.


Colorado’s Animal Cruelty, Neglect, and Mistreatment Laws

Colorado’s criminal code, codified in title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, provides that a person commits cruelty to animals if he or she  “knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence overdrives, overloads, overworks, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, allows to be housed in a manner that results in chronic or repeated serious physical harm, carries or confines in or upon any vehicles in a cruel or reckless manner, engages in a sexual act with an animal, or otherwise mistreats or neglects any animal or causes or procures it to be done, or having the charge or custody of any animal, fails to provide with proper food, drink, or protection from the weather consistent with the species, breed, and type of animal involved, or abandons an animal.”

Section 18-9-202(1)(a), C.R.S. Also, “A person commits cruelty to animals if he or she recklessly or with criminal negligence tortures, needlessly mutilates, or needlessly kills an animal” (section 18-9-202(1.5)(a), C.R.S.) or “intentionally abandons a dog or cat.” Section 18-2-202(b), C.R.S.

Access Relevant Statutes:

C.R.S. Reference for Bureau of Animal Protection
Title 18, Article 9, Part 2: Cruelty To Animals, Sections 18-9-201 to 18-9-209
Title 35, Article 42: Animal Protection, Sections 35-42-101 to 35-42-115
Title 35, Article 42.5: Animal Shelters And Pounds, Section 35-42.5-101

Colorado Revised Statutes are made available for public use by the Committee on Legal Services of the Colorado General Assembly through a contractual arrangement with the LexisNexis Group. Any person wishing to reprint and distribute all or a substantial part of the statutes in either printed or electronic format must obtain prior permission of the Committee on Legal Services; permission is not required to reprint fewer than 200 sections of C.R.S. (§2-5-118, C.R.S.).

The Lexis Nexis website is the only official source of the Colorado Revised Statutes.