Improved health and safety standards and limits for dogs who are leashed and left alone were today signed into law by the governor thanks to newly passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn.
The measure, which unanimously passed the Senate in February with strong support from animal care advocates, cleared the state House of Representatives earlier this month.
“We heard the heartbreaking stories of Coffee, Kingston and Hershey, who faced terrible abuse and neglect while tied up at their home,” said Fain, who recently received the Wet Nose Award from the Auburn Valley Humane Society, which goes to people who are champions for animals. “These dogs were without water, forced to sleep in their own waste and tied up permanently to the point the collar became embedded in their neck. Fortunately for these three dogs animal protection officers were able to take action, but for many others intervention was limited until too late. With the new law animal officers can step in much earlier to prevent tragedy.”
Under the new law, dogs cannot be restrained for a reckless period of time and when they are must have access to food and water, protection from extreme weather and the ability to move about without becoming tangled.
Washington would become the 21st state along with the District of Columbia to have specific animal tethering laws in place, although they vary.
“Reckless tethering has dramatic and devastating impacts to dogs as it puts them at risk of severe injury, psychological suffering due to isolation and even death in extreme cases,” said Dan Paul, Washington State Director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We are so grateful for Sen. Fain’s leadership in guiding this bill through the Legislature, as it provides meaningful and enforceable care standards for dogs that live their lives on a tether. This new law echoes the humane ethic of our state and its passage is truly a victory to be celebrated.”
In order to avoid injuries and permanent damage tethering by a choke, pinch, or halter collar, or a chain or rope that is so heavy it impedes the dog’s free movement is now prohibited.
“Legislation addressing the humane tethering of dogs has been introduced in the Washington State Legislature several times in recent years, but until now, none of those bills moved forward to passage,” said Kay Joubert, Vice President of the Washington State Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies. “Animal control and care agencies are grateful to Sen. Fain for his leadership on this bill, and to the many members of the state Senate and House of Representatives for supporting the bill’s passage. This legislation provides common sense, reasonable standards that will help ensure that if people tether their dogs, they do so in a way that is humane and does not put dogs at unnecessary risk of harm.”
Under the measure each violation of the humane dog tethering law is considered a separate offense. The first offense results in a warning to correct the violation within seven days. Further offenses are considered escalating civil infractions.
The new legislation will go into effect in July.