Dog Laws

Washington State Dog Laws

Are you thinking about adding a furry friend to your life in Washington State? Before you dive into the wonderful world of dog ownership, let’s chat about the rules that keep our pups and communities safe. Washington State has some guidelines in place, and understanding them is a must for all dog lovers.

Whether you’re a long-time dog parent or just thinking about it, this blog is here to make those laws a little more paw-sible to understand. If you’ve been in a dog bite accident involving someone else’s dog, contact an Edmonds personal injury attorney for legal guidance and support. 

Breed-specific dog laws in Washington

While the state itself has breed-neutral laws based on a dog’s behavior, localities have the authority to elaborate on these regulations. Some areas have additional breed-neutral ordinances, while others go a step further with breed-specific laws.

As of now, 27 cities in Washington have implemented breed-specific dog laws, each with its unique approach to regulating certain breeds. For instance, Yakima enforces a ban specifically on pit bull dogs, as do SeaTac, Buckley, and Enumclaw. In Auburn, certain breeds, including pit bulls, Akitas, and kuvasz, are categorized as potentially dangerous. Everett takes a similar stance, designating pit bulls as potentially dangerous.

Washington State Dog Bite Law

Regardless of your dog’s breed, Washington State has stringent liability laws (RCW 16.08.010 and 16.08.040) regarding dog bites, applying to both humans and other animals. Under these laws, dog owners and keepers may be held liable even if it’s the first time their dog has bitten someone, irrespective of the owner’s negligence. Understanding these laws is crucial for dog owners to ensure responsible pet ownership and prevent potential legal consequences in the event of a dog bite incident.

Licensing and Leash Laws in Washington

Unlike some states, Washington does not have a statewide pet licensing or leash law. Instead, these regulations are determined and enforced at the city or municipality level. Pet owners need to check with their local city’s animal services department for specific information on licensing and leash laws. These ordinances can vary widely between locales, so familiarizing yourself with the rules that apply to your area is key to responsible pet ownership.

For example, in the city of Tacoma, pet owners are legally required to license their pets. Additionally, all dogs must be on a leash no longer than eight feet or confined to their owner’s property at all times, except in designated off-leash areas. Adhering to these local regulations ensures the safety of both pets and the community while fostering a positive relationship between pet owners and their neighbors. 

When Can Victims File Claims Against Dog Owners in Washington?

In Washington, dog bite victims hold the right to file damages claims against the pet owner in almost all cases. Notably, it doesn’t matter if the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressive tendencies, or if the owner was negligent in controlling the animal. State law stipulates that the owner of any dog that bites a person, while that person is lawfully on the property, is strictly liable for damages.

Exceptions to this rule include cases where the victim was trespassing at the time of the attack or if the dog was a police dog carrying out its professional duties during the incident. In such cases, damage claims can cover a range of losses related to the accident, encompassing past and future medical expenses, lost income, property damages, and pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a dog bite in Washington, it’s essential to understand your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.