OLYMPIA—Under current law, cities in Washington state are allowed to prohibit residents from keeping certain breeds of dogs within the city limits. The usual targets of such laws are, of course, large and/or fierce-looking breeds such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds. But in actuality, a city has the power to ban any breed: poodles, Chihuahuas, beagles, even golden retrievers. If you have a member of the forbidden breed, your choice is to get rid of your pet, or move out of the city.
Those days are ending. Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law legislation sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) that effectively ends such sweeping and, in her opinion, ill-informed prohibitions.
Under Appleton’s House Bill 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.
“Washington is the latest state to get rid of this exclusionary and ill-considered prohibition,” Appleton said, “and I’m honored to have helped. I also want to applaud the cities in our state that have previously banned breeds but recently repealed those laws. We have effective dangerous-dog laws throughout Washington, and they work. We can now 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.”
Appleton, who was named 2018 Legislator of the Year by the Washington Humane Society, said the new law will affect some two dozen Washington cities and towns that currently have breed-bans on their books. HB 1026 will take effect on January 1, 2020.
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