2011 WA Legislation Recap
The 2011 legislative session yielded both the passage of important bills that provided increased protection for animals and the passage of bills that disallow their humane treatment. The session also saw several animal-related bills not pass, including beneficial bills that would provide added protection and bills that would eliminate protection that is currently in place.
Important bills that passed include the Anti-cruelty bill, which passed with a few minor amendments. This bill will make it more difficult for those convicted of animal cruelty to become repeat offenders. The bill expands upon the definition of “similar” animals to the Genus level, with cats and dogs falling under the improved definition of similarity. Those who are convicted of animal cruelty will not be allowed to own similar animals. The bill also increased the punishment for second degree animal cruelty, making the crime a gross misdemeanor. This important bill was signed into law on April 27th.
Another significant bill that passed was Crimes Against Animals Belonging to Another Person. With this bill, when a person causes serious temporary bodily harm or disfigurement to livestock, the person will be charged with a felony crime. This bill was signed into law on April 14th.
The third important bill that passed was the Shark Finning Activities bill. Sharks are endangered, and this bill makes it a class C felony to sell, offer for sale, purchase, offer to purchase, or otherwise trade in shark fins. This law attempts to terminate the practice of slicing off a shark’s fin while it is still alive. While the fin itself is virtually flavorless, it is considered to be a delicacy and is sold as a culinary ingredient for foods such as shark fin soup. Shark finning is wasteful and inhumane. Without their fins, sharks are unable to navigate the water and they always perish from this inhumane practice. This bill has been delivered to Governor Gregoire for her signature.
Adverse bills that passed include the Commercial Egg-Laying Chicken Operations bill, an industry-backed bill that codifies cage confinement rather than promoting cage-free systems. This bill uses standards from the American Humane Association Facility System Plan for housing egg laying hens. While the name of the organization implies humane treatment for hens, the cages proposed are not much larger than those that are already in use. Current cage sizes dramatically restrict mobility and are far from humane for the hens, who are unable to move their wings or turn their bodies. Initiative 1130, which is currently collecting signatures, would greatly increase the amount of room that egg-laying hens would have beyond what is stipulated in this bill.
While we are thankful that notable bills to protect the animals passed during this legislative session, several did not pass. These bills will return next year for the second part of the two-year session and it is essential that we support these bills to help them become law.
The Animal Abuser Registry bill, HB 1800 / SB 5144, proposed a registry for those who were convicted of animal cruelty, similar to the sexual offender registry. Those who have abused animals are far more likely to injure humans than those who have not abused animals. This bill would keep all of our communities safer.
The Humane Treatment of Dogs bill, HB 1755 / SB 5469, proposed to limit the amount of time that a dog could be chained during a 24-hour period.
The Companion Animal Spay / Neuter Assistance bill, HB1226 / SB5151, proposed to create a pet population control and safety program. The proposed program would be statewide and provide low-cost spay and neuter surgeries to low-income pet owners.
Pasado’s Safe Haven is also thankful that several adverse bills did not pass during this legislative session. Unfortunately, these bills will return in 2012, but it is the hope of animal advocates statewide that education and campaigning will ensure their repeated failure.
HB 1107 pertained to preparation for the epidemiological consequences of diseases related to wolf populations. HB 1108 pertained to the state’s management of wolves. And HB 1109 concerned the legislative review of gray wolf conservation and management. This trio of bills attempts to circumvent the protections that are currently available for gray wolves in Washington State.
HB 1138 and HB 1137 are two bills that are attempting to overturn the voter-approved I-713 that limits the use of body-gripping traps. Body-gripping traps grip an animal’s body or part of an animal’s body. These traps include, but are not limited to, steel-jawed leghold traps, padded-jaw leghold traps, Conibear traps, neck snares, and nonstrangling foot snares. Body-gripping traps are dangerous and inhumane and it is no small victory that these bills were not passed.
HB 1124 / SB 5326 authorizes the use of dogs to hunt cougars. Fortunately, this bill was not passed from the rules committee, either.
Pasado’s Safe Haven would like to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you to those who worked tirelessly on passing important legislation and preventing injurious bills from becoming laws. Every protective bill passed is a victory for the animals, but it is imperative that we continue to remain vigilant when bills such as HB 1138, HB 1137, and HB 1124 / SB 5326 emerge.
Pasado’s Safe Haven looks ahead to the next session as a further opportunity to champion legislation that will provide protection for those who cannot speak for themselves.
If you would like to help Pasado’s Safe Haven promote powerful change and protection for the animals, please consider making a donation today. Thanks to the support of readers like you, we can continue to make a difference for all animals, one session, one bill, and one breath at a time.
Thank you – from all of the animals in Washington State.