Yesterday the Washington Senate unanimously passed a bill (SSB5501) that makes leaving a pet locked in a car under dangerous conditions a civil offense.
Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, the bill’s lead sponsor, said it “prevents some liability issues that might have prevented them from taking immediate action.”
Here are the highlights of the bill:
- People who leave an unattended animal in a car, or other enclosed space, where it might be harmed by heat, cold, or lack of water or fresh air will be subject to a $125 fine.
- People who leave an animal in a dangerous enclosed space could also be charged with animal cruelty, a felony offense, in addition to the fine.
- It authorizes animal control officers and police to break in to rescue confined animals and clears them of liability for incidental property damage.
- It expands the state’s ban on animal fighting from just dogs and roosters to all animals.
- It makes it a crime for an adult to cause a minor to commit animal cruelty or make animals fight.
- It eliminates a loophole where existing Washington laws only punish the theft of animals worth less than $250 or more than $750.
“We are encouraged by this next and important step for Senate bill SSB 5501 which will strengthen the laws designed to protect companion animals in our community, while giving the prosecutors and animal control officers additional means to address issues of animal cruelty,” said Kay Joubert, director of Companion Animal Services, PAWS in Lynnwood.
The proposal has the support of major animal advocacy groups including PAWS, ASPCA, Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary, Pasado’s Safe Haven, members of the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies and others.
If you’d like to thank Senator Fain for his support of the bill, leave a message on his Facebook page.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. Please contact your Representatives and ask them to support the bill.
If you don’t know your who your Representatives are, call the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000. They can tell you who they are and will forward a message to them.
If you know your Representative, this page tells you how you can contact them.