Appleton scores victory in effort to end breed-specific dog bans

OLYMPIA – Persistence pays off.  After years of effort, state Rep. Sherry Appleton on Wednesday (Apr. 17) celebrated final passage of her bill to prohibit local governments in Washington from enacting blanket bans on specific dog breeds.

Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo), who was named 2018 Legislator of the Year by the Washington State Humane Society, has passed several notable bills during her long legislative career, but all the while worked tirelessly on her quest to outlaw breed-specific bans. More than any other breed, those bans are aimed at persons who own American pit bull terriers, or dogs that are lumped in with pit bulls because they physically resemble them.

“It’s so easy for a city council to think they’re increasing public safety by passing an ordinance banning pit bulls, or what they erroneously think are pit bulls,” Appleton said. “They might not be as pretty as golden retriever or cute as a poodle, and they’ve been misused for so long by so many cruel owners that they’ve been stereotyped as being ticking time bombs. But it’s wrong in many ways, and it’s penalized countless families who love their pitties.”

Under the terms of Appleton’s bill (HB 1026), cities may not prohibit ownership of specific breeds of dog unless the city meets a number of conditions. Among them:

  • There must be a process for exempting individual dogs who pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test or its equivalent.
  • Dogs who pass the good-behavior test are exempt from breed-based regulations for at least two years, and may retest to continue the exemption.
  • Dogs who initially fail the good-behavior test can retest within a reasonable period of time.

“By passing this bill at last,” Appleton said, “Washington joins nearly two dozen other states, red, blue, and purple, that have either completely prohibited or placed tight restrictions on breed-specific dog bans. I don’t see this as a personal victory, although at times it has been a lonely crusade. I consider this a victory for families who will now have the right to live anywhere they wish in this great state without having to choose between relocating for that good job or that educational opportunity or that wonderful retirement community, and parting with a loving, four-legged member of their family.”

HB 1026 has been transmitted to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.