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Eye On Olympia

And the award for needlessly panicking pet owners across the state goes to…

Whoever wrote this summary of Senate bill 5870. It summarizes the bill like this:

Declares it is the duty of the sheriff or any deputy
sheriff to kill any dog found running at large (after the first
day of August of any year and before the first day of March in
the following year) without a metal identification tag.
(Note: Someone apparently read this post, because it’s now been corrected. But here’s what the original version looked like.)

A free-fire zone on all unlicensed Fidos? Holy cow! Who would dare propose such a thing?


Weirdly, the bill digest above isn’t even for SB 5870. It’s a mischaracterization of a completely different dog bill, SB 5200.

The provision listed above has been in Washington’s lawbooks for nearly a century. Lawmakers want to REPEAL the antiquated law. Here’s the bill report for SB 5200 and here’s the complete bill itself. And if there’s any remaining doubt about the purpose of the bill, here’s recent testimony by its prime sponsor, Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham:

“You run across pieces of the law periodically, and you actually say to yourself, `I can’t believe this is still on the books.’ There should be no question about doing away with this section. It is clearly not something that the Legislature would authorize today.”

So no one’s gunning for Fluffy, despite the outraged blog posts out there. (Sample: “What if his collar comes off? Law enforcement will now be able to use him for target practice. It’s sick!”) We’ve started getting calls about the bill at our Spokane newsroom.

All of which brings me back to the original bill. What is SB 5870, really? It’s another cleanup bill, repealing an old section of law regarding pets killing livestock. From the bill report:

The requirement that a dog owner kill his or her dog within 48 hours of
receiving notification that the dog was found killing a domestic animal is repealed.

Again: repealed. But given  the astounding resilience of Senate bill 6900, a dead-on-arrival car-tax proposal last year that’s still trumpeted regularly on Internet sites as an imminent threat to red-blooded V-8 lovers everywhere, it’s probably safe to say that lawmakers will be getting email from outraged dog owners for months to come.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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