On May 11, 2015, SSB 5501, the animal cruelty prevention bill, passed the Washington State Senate by a vote of 49 to 0. This bill (SSB5501) makes leaving a pet locked in a car under dangerous conditions a civil offense. As pet sitters in Seattle, we are SO happy to see this bill pass.
Under the legislation, animals left in enclosed spaces where their lives are in danger, such as cars, could be more quickly rescued by animal control officers. They also would be able to charge the pet owner with increased penalties and remove liability for the officer entering the vehicle.
The legislation also expands the legal definition of animal fighting to apply to all animals instead of only dogs and roosters, enhances penalties for animal abuse and gives prosecutors the tools they need to charge abusers.
So, in short it affects:
- People who leave an unattended animal in a car, or other enclosed space, where it might be harmed by heat, cold, or lack of water or fresh air will be subject to a $125 fine.
- People who leave an animal in a dangerous enclosed space will also be charged with civil infraction in addition to the fine.
- It authorizes animal control officers and police to break in to rescue confined animals and clears them of liability for incidental property damage.
- It expands the state’s ban on animal fighting from just dogs and roosters to all animals.
- It makes it a crime for an adult to cause a minor to commit animal cruelty or make animals fight.
- It eliminates a loophole where existing Washington laws that only punish the theft of animals worth less than $250 or more than $750.
Next time you leave your pet in the car on a too hot or too cold day, move fast or think twice.
Want to know exactly how long it will take before it’s too hot? Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association page to see a complete chart.
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