A self-professed dog lover has helped push a bill through the Legislature that updates animal welfare law.
The Washington House approved Senate Bill 6300, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, that includes updates to animal cruelty laws and provides more options to where people can take abandoned animals.
“I’m a dog lover, as are many of my colleagues,” Rivers said in a statement released after the House approved the bill Thursday. “So it wasn’t a surprise that we saw overwhelming support for this legislation. This is an area of the law where Republicans and Democrats have lots of common ground.”
“This bill is the first comprehensive update of animal welfare laws in years,” she said. “It responds to unfortunate situations we’ve seen in headlines, like when someone accused of badly mistreating dozens of dogs blamed their actions on a lack of resources. Some of these changes are overdue, and none is coming too soon.”
SB 6300 was approved Thursday by a 89-8 vote. Five representatives from Clark County — Republicans Paul Harris, Larry Hoff and Brandon Vick and Democrats Monica Stonier and Sharon Wylie — voted for the legislation. Republican Vicki Kraft cast one of the eight votes against the bill.
The Senate approved the bill by a 43-5 vote on Feb. 17. All three senators from Clark County — Rivers, fellow Republican Lynda Wilson and Democrat Annette Cleveland — voted for the bill.
Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, sponsored a companion bill, House Bill 2317, that contained the same provisions but never made it to the House floor.
“Pets are family members and should be protected,” Orwall said in the same statement. “This bill gives law enforcement the tools to fully prosecute people who abuse animals, removes loopholes like the economic distress defense, and prohibits people who have been convicted of violent crimes from owning other animals during time specified by the courts.
“Pets deserve better than abuse and trauma, and law enforcement needs the tools to better protect them.”
Orwall, speaking from the House floor Thursday, said the legislation would punish those “who really torture and injure animals.”
“We have people, so sadly, that are harming our animals,” she said. “We are talking about really horrendous acts, of neglect and of abuse, of sexual contact, and we want to keep our animals safe and we want to give people the tools to prosecute these acts.”
The House added minor amendments to SB 6300, which means the bill will need to go back to the Senate for its concurrence before it is sent to Gov. Jay Inslee.