OLYMPIA—For years, city governments in Washington state have had the power to prohibit residents from owning certain breeds of dogs. The usual targets of such laws were, of course, pit bulls. But in actuality, a city had the power to ban any breed: poodles, Chihuahuas, beagles, even golden retrievers. If you had a member of the forbidden breed, your choice was to get rid of your pet, or leave the city.
No more. On Friday, the state House of Representatives approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) that would effectively end such sweeping and, in her opinion, ill-informed prohibitions.
“Washington is one of a minority of states with this kind of short-sighted law on the books,” Appleton said. “Some cities in our state that have previously banned breeds have recently repealed those laws, and I commend them for that. We have effective dangerous-dog laws throughout Washington, and they work. Let’s simply enforce those laws as intended, and stop persecuting people based on what breed of dog they’ve chosen to love and have in their family.”
Under Appleton’s HB 1026, which left the House with a better-than 2-to-1 margin, 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.
After its bipartisan 66-29 victory in the House, HB 1026 will be considered in the Senate in the coming weeks. The 2019 legislative session is slated to conclude on April 28.
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