House approves updates to laws against animal cruelty

Bill sponsor Sen. Ann Rivers expects amendments approved by the House will be agreed to by the Senate, allowing the bill to go to the governor.

OLYMPIA — The state House of Representatives Thursday joined the Senate in approving updates to state animal-welfare laws, including changes involving the crime of cruelty to animals and where people may take abandoned animals.

Sen. Ann Rivers
Sen. Ann Rivers

“I’m a dog lover, as are many of my colleagues, so it wasn’t a surprise that we saw overwhelming support for this legislation – this is an area of the law where Republicans and Democrats have lots of common ground,” said Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who is prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6300.

“This bill is the first comprehensive update of animal-welfare laws in years, and it responds to unfortunate situations we’ve seen in headlines – like when someone accused of badly mistreating dozens of dogs blamed their actions on a lack of resources. Some of these changes are overdue, and none is coming too soon.”

“Pets are family members and should be protected,” said Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, who is prime sponsor of the identical House Bill 2317.

“This bill gives law enforcement the tools to fully prosecute people who abuse animals, removes loopholes like the economic distress defense, and prohibits people who have been convicted of violent crimes from owning other animals during time specified by the courts. Pets deserve better than abuse and trauma and law enforcement needs the tools to better protect them.”

Rivers expects amendments approved by the House will be agreed to by the Senate, completing the Legislature’s work on the bill and allowing it to go to the governor.

The passage of SB 6300 was well-received by Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Sultan-based animal rescue and sanctuary that offered testimony in support of the legislation.

“Pasado’s Safe Haven sees firsthand the tragic effects of animal cruelty and neglect on a daily basis,” said Laura Henderson, executive director. “This bill is an important step forward to ensure that the most vulnerable animals in our state are protected and that those who harm animals are held accountable. Not only does this bill make animals safer, but our communities will be safer as well.”

Information provided by Washington State Legislature communications.

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