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Update: SSB 5501, a bill to strengthen our animal cruelty laws, has passed. It was signed on May 11, 2015 by Governor Jay Inslee and will go into effect on July 24, 2015.

Photo by Washington State Legislative Support Services

The Facts on SSB 5501

Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 5501 is a great bill that will help prevent and address animal cruelty. Read the bill here.  Note that section 7 of the bill was vetoed by the governor. Section 7 was added in the State House of Representatives at the last minute. There was strong agreement by animal welfare organizations and advocates the section was detrimental to animal welfare and should be vetoed. We are grateful to Governor Inslee for approving the bill while vetoing section 7. His veto message is here. We also wish to thank several legislators for their critical roll in moving the bill forward in the legislature to passage: Senator Joe Fain, prime sponsor of the bill; Senator Mike Padden, Chair, Senate Law & Justice Committee; Representative Laurie Jinkins, Chair, House Judiciary Committee; and Representative Pat Sullivan, House Majority Leader.

The purpose of the bill is to clarify, remove inconsistencies, and make revisions to state laws that define and address animal cruelty. There are three key features of the bill:

1.  It modifies the definition of animal cruelty in the first degree to include, unless otherwise allowed by law, the act of intentionally killing or causing substantial pain or injury to an animal while manifesting an extreme indifference to life.

2.  It keeps children and animals safe by making it illegal to cause a minor to participate in organized animal fighting activities, while broadening protection to prohibit organized fights between any animals, not just between dogs and between male chickens.

3. It prohibits the unsafe confinement of animals by specifying the conditions under which officers may remove animals confined in extreme temperatures; limits officers’ liability for property damage when damage results from authorized removal of animals; and creates a class 2 civil infraction penalty.


For more information, please see story by Animal News Northwest.

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