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Colorado Senate committee gives wag to bill that would legalize online pet-sitting

April 24, 2017 Updated: April 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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Even lawmakers without a "dog in the fight" backed a measure Monday that would allow online pet-sitting services to operate legally in Colorado.

House Bill 1228 would address state law, which prohibits services that provide in-home pet care unless the service operates under the same rules and regulations as larger boarding and daycare pet facilities. Requirements include paying licensing fees and requiring home sitters to submit to random inspections.

The advent of pet-sitting online services, including Rover.com and DoggyVacay, has shifted the landscape for pet sitting, causing lawmakers to look at a modernization in the law.

Similar to Uber and Lyft, which provide transportation network services, tens of thousands of Coloradans are using electronic platforms to connect with pet sitters. For the sitters themselves, the ease of the service has allowed them to supplement incomes.

The measure unanimously passed the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on Monday. It now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill has already passed the House.

"The solution is a sensible exemption to existing law," said Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, a sponsor of the bill.

The legislation would exempt pet sitters from existing law if they have three or fewer pets in their care at one time.

Lawmakers pursued the legislation after reports of state investigations into pet sitters using the online platforms. Some sitters were told to pay expensive licensing fees for their home-based businesses.

Lisa Jacobson, a Colorado Springs-based pet sitter who specializes in dogs with special needs, said the service has been valuable to her as a single mom with a kid in college.

"I love caring for dogs and the extra income I've earned is vital to my family," Jacobson said. "Home care is a necessary alternative for many dogs."

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