Colorado raised the bar on efforts to help shelter animals recently when legislators made shelter dogs and cats the state's official "state pet." Proponents hope that the new status will raise more awareness for rescues and demonstrate the importance of adopting animals.

According to the Denver Post, the proposal was suggested by Colorado schoolchildren. But it did not pass without a touch of controversy. Professional lobbyists representing purebred dog clubs, retailers, groomers and dog-show organizers argued that the new designation might open up an entirely new area for businesses transactions. Several opponents also feel that the shelter pets might not even be Colorado residents. And they claimed that it was discriminatory to snakes, reptiles, birds and other animals.

But in the end the bill passed and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law to make the designation official. The students from Peakview School in Walsenburg, Colo., who proposed it learned quite a bit about the legislative process, and Colorado's shelter dogs and cats earned the title of "state pet."

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