Today Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed an Animal Cruelty bill (SSB 5501) that will toughen the penalty for those who abuse animals and make it easier for law enforcement to intervene in cases of animal cruelty.
The bill also makes it easier for animal control officers to rescue dogs locked in hot cars.
In addition, Governor Inslee vetoed section 7 of the bill, a last minute addition by Representative Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) that would have undermined existing law by making it virtually impossible to prosecute neglect and cruelty to farm animals in noncommercial settings, such as animals kept in backyards or by hobbyists.
The Washington Senate passed the bill unanimously, 49-0, while the House of Representatives passed it 59-38 with one excused absence.
The new law will clarify, remove inconsistencies from, and make minor revisions to state laws that define and address animal cruelty. There are three key features of the bill:
1. It modifies the definition of animal cruelty in the first degree to include, unless otherwise allowed by law, the act of intentionally killing or causing substantial pain or injury to an animal while manifesting an extreme indifference to life.
2. It keeps children and animals safe by making it illegal to cause a minor to participate in organized animal fighting activities, while broadening protection to prohibit organized fights between any animals, not just between dogs and between male chickens.
3. It prohibits the unsafe confinement of animals by specifying the conditions under which officers may remove animals confined in extreme temperatures; limits officers’ liability for property damage when damage results from authorized removal of animals; and creates a class 2 civil infraction penalty.
Many thanks to Governor Inslee for signing this important piece of legislation and vetoing the section that would have undermined existing animal cruelty laws.
Thanks to the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation, the Washington State Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies, and PAWS for spearheading the campaign to pass this important bill.
Here’s the video of the signing ceremony and Governor Inslee’s remarks about the new law.