OLYMPIA – Washington lawmakers made the case Tuesday that they are the best friends to man’s best friend, passing two bills designed to give greater protections to dogs.
The Senate unanimously approved a bill that creates penalties for people who inhumanely tether a dog, and leave it without water, the ability to turn around or adequate shelter. Inhumane tethering could result in the same penalties as other animal cruelty violations – a warning on the first offense, then civil infractions with fines on later offenses.
Sen. Joe Fain, its prime sponsor, said witnesses at a hearing produced some horrific examples of tethered dogs that were mistreated, including some that had been left in tight choke collars so long that the spikes fused to their neck muscles.
Attempts to pass similar legislation in past years has stalled, but the Senate approved this proposal on a 49-0 vote, with one lawmaker voting “woof” and another “arf” before saying “aye” during the roll call.
A few minutes later, the House overwhelmingly passed a proposal that expands offenses for interfering with, injuring, killing or stealing a guide dog or service animal. The bill would include dogs in training as guide dogs or service animals, something not currently spelled out in the statute.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said he couldn’t support the bill because it included dogs as young as eight weeks. “It needs to be narrowed a bit,” he said.