WA Animal Cruelty Law Updated

Governor Christine Gregoire has now signed into law S.B. 5065. The counterpart in the House of Representatives was H.B. 1147.

In 2009 Washington enacted a comprehensive law to restrict a convicted animal abuser’s access to "similar" animals. S.B. 5065 clarifies that the abuser would be restricted not only from owning or caring for "similar" animals but also "residing" with them. Also, in determining whether these restrictions should be lifted, a court would consider whether the abuser had complied with them. Significantly, the definition of "similar" animal would be broader to protect more animals from an abuser. 

Under S.B. 5065 an abuser will be subject to a civil penalty for violating the restriction on owning, caring for or residing with animals. A first violation will mean of $1,000 and the second a fine of $2,500. A third violation will be a gross misdemeanor.    

Also under the new law animal cruelty in the second degree will be a gross misdemeanor instead of a misdemeanor. Second degree animal cruelty means "knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence" (a) inflicting "unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal", or (b) failing to "provide the animal with necessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure". Second degree animal cruelty also includes abandonment.

Under the new law both food and water must be in sufficient quantity and appropriate to the species of animal, and must be easily accessible to the  animal.

Also, animal control officers now have the authority to issue citations for civil infractions as they already do for misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors.