On April 18, 2017, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law SSB 5356, a bill relating to the humane treatment of dogs. This legislation, sponsored by Washington State Senator Joe Fain unanimously passed the State Senate and passed the State House of Representatives with bi-partisan support by a vote of 68 yes, 28 no.
SSB 5356 will officially become law on July 23, 2017.
VIEW BILL HERE:
BACKGROUND ON SSB 5356
Current Washington State animal cruelty laws offer protection to pets, livestock and working animals from unnecessary pain and suffering, abuse and neglect. Law enforcement and animal control agencies enforce State and local animal welfare laws and ordinances.
Washington State RCW 9.08, relates to crimes inflicted on animals, did not properly address long standing concerns regarding dogs who are kept chained and/or tethered for long periods of time and in inhumane conditions. Recognizing the need to improve the State law, animal welfare groups including the Washington Federation of Animal Care & Control Agencies (The Federation), the Washington Animal Control Association (WACA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the ASPCA and animal shelters, animal control agencies and prosecutors from across the State worked together to draft SSB 5356.
KEY PROVISIONS OF SSB 5356
SSB5356 will include a new section to Washington State RCW 16.52 to include the following:
- Any dog that is restrained outside by a tether must only be restrained for a period of time that is not reckless and in compliance with this section.
- The dog shall not be tethered in a manner that results, or could reasonably result, in the dog becoming frequently entangled on the restraint or another object.
- If there are multiple dogs tethered, each dog must be on a separate tether and not secured to the same fixed point.
- The tether must allow the dog to sit, lie down, and stand comfortably without the restraint becoming taut and allow the dog a range of movement.
- A dog shall not be tethered if it is ill, suffering from a debilitation disease, injured, in distress, in the advanced stages of pregnancy, or under six months of age.
- A tethered dog must have access to clean water and necessary shelter that is safe and protective while tethered. The shelter and water vessel must be constructed or attached in such a way that the dog cannot knock over the shelter or water vessel.
- A dog shall not be tethered in a manner that results in the dog being left in unsafe or unsanitary conditions or that forces the dog to stand, sit, or lie down in its own excrement or urine.
- A dog shall not be tethered by means of a choke, pinch, slip, halter, or prong-type collar, or by any means other than with a properly fitted buckle-type collar or harness that provides enough room between the collar or harness and the dogs’ throat to allow normal breathing and swallowing.
- The weight of the tether shall not unreasonably inhibit the free movement of the dog within the area allowed by the length of the tether.
- The dog shall not be tethered in a manner that causes the dog injury or pain
SSB5356 allows provisions in the RCW 16.52 to exempt anti-tethering laws in the following situations:
- The dog is tethered while it is receiving medical care or treatment under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian or being groomed.
- The dog is participating temporarily in an exhibition, show, contest or other event in which the skill, breeding or stamina of the dog is being judged or examined.
- The dog is being kept temporarily at a camping or recreation area.
- The dog is being cared for temporarily after having been picked up as a stray or as part of a rescue operation.
- The dog is being transported in a motor vehicle or temporarily restrained or tied after being unloaded from a motor vehicle.
- The dog is being trained or used by a federal, state or local law enforcement agency or military or national guard unit.
- The dog is in the physical presence of the person who owns, keeps or controls the dog.
ENFORCEMENT/PENALITIES OF SSB5356
Each incident involving a violation of SSB5356 is considered a separate offense.
- The first offense shall result in a correction warning being issued requiring the offense to be corrected by the person who owns, keeps or controls the dog within seven days of the date of the warning.
- The second offense is a Class 2 Civil Infraction under Washington State RCW 7.08.120(1)(b).
- The third or subsequent offense is a Class 1 Civil Infraction under Washington State RCW 7.08.120 (1) (a).
VIEW RCW 7.08.120: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=7.80.120
NOTE: IF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE DOG IS AT IMMINENT RISK, AND OR OTHER VIOLATIONS OF STATE OR LOCAL ANIMAL WELFARE LAWS ARE BEING VIOLATED, LAW ENFORCEMENT/ANIMAL CONTROL WOULD USE THE STATE AND LOCAL LAWS AND PROVISIONS AVAILABLE TO THEM TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION IN ADDITION TO THOSE OUTLINED IN SSB 5356