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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fight seeking dog coverage clears city council

Kris Stanford is trying to fix a quirk in state law that she considers an automatic death sentence for any dog declared “dangerous” by authorities.

The Spokane woman’s puppy, Salon, was destroyed in 2012 after she was unable to obtain state-mandated liability insurance following an investigation that concluded the young pit bull terrier had attacked another dog. Stanford said she couldn’t find any insurance companies offering the $250,000 in coverage that state and local laws require for dogs with a history of biting.

“No one is offering it, yet the state still requires it,” she said this week. “Basically it means, if your dog is deemed dangerous, it’s dead, because there’s no way to get insurance and comply with the law.”

Stanford cleared her first hurdle this week when the Spokane City Council approved a resolution urging the Legislature and the state insurance commissioner’s office to find solutions. The council, with a 5-1 vote, agreed Monday night that the mandated coverage should be available and affordable.

Although nonbinding, the City Council resolution was a critical first step because Spokane’s local ordinance mirrors state law.

“I’ve talked with my legislators, and they said, ‘If you can get the city to recommend this be looked at then we can go from there,” she said. “I’ve also talked to the Insurance Commissioner’s Office, and they said the last time they could find that anyone was able to get insurance for a ‘dangerous’ dog was in 2009.”

Councilman Mike Fagan said Stanford has made a persuasive point.

He said he hopes lawmakers can find a way to not only make the required policies available but also affordable, perhaps by reducing the amount of mandated coverage below $250,000.

Most homeowner policies provide liability coverage for dogs, but once a dog has been deemed dangerous, the coverage is dropped, Stanford said.