The State of Washington has several laws regarding dogs and dog related injuries. For example, it has laws on when a dog bites a person, when a dog bites another dog, and even laws that compensate people when they suffer from a non-aggressive dog injury. Even with all of these rules on the books, the state also has specific demands purely with respect to pit bulls. Washington also has special mandates regarding “potentially dangerous” dogs and “dangerous” dogs.
What are Washington’s Laws on Pit Bulls?
Under Washington law, specific cities in the state can adopt ordinances that impact pit bull ownership in some way. The majority of these ordinances do the following:
- Mandate pit bull sterilization, and
- Declare pit bulls “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” dogs (see discussion below).
Note that, in the past, cities were able to ban people outright from owning pit bulls. However, the law changed in 2020. Now, municipalities can still ban these animals. However, owners can avoid the restrictions if their dog can pass:
- The American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen test, or
- Some behavior test that is reasonably equivalent to it.
What are “Potentially Dangerous” or “Dangerous” Dogs?
Washington State has certain laws on both “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous” dogs. A pit bull can definitely fall into either category.
A “potentially dangerous” dog is one that does any of the following when unprovoked:
- Inflicts bites on a human or a domestic animal either on public or private property,
- Chases or approaches a person in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, or
- Has a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or otherwise to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.
A “dangerous” dog means any dog that:
- Inflicts severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property,
- Kills a domestic animal without provocation while the dog is off the owner’s property, or
- Has been previously found to be potentially dangerous because of injury inflicted on a human and the dog again aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans.
A canine is often labeled as either of the above following an investigation conducted by:
- an animal control officer,
- a law enforcement officer, or
- a court hearing.
What are the Rules for These Dogs?
A potentially dangerous or dangerous dog must be lawfully licensed and vaccinated. In addition, when the dog is on its owner’s property, the dog has to be kept:
- securely confined indoors, or
- in a securely enclosed locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping.
When the dog is in a public place, an adult must:
- control it, and
- keep it on a leash.
An animal control officer can confiscate a potentially dangerous or dangerous dog if the owner does not follow any of the above. If a dangerous dog, with a prior conviction for biting, again bites a person or animal, then the dog’s owner is guilty of a class C felony. The crime is punishable by:
- confinement in a state correctional institution for five years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.
If your pit bull, or other breed of dog, has been deemed a potentially dangerous or dangerous animal, please know that it is critical to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for help. Also know that Otorowski Morrow & Golden, PLLC is here to stand by your side. Their attorneys are tireless in their efforts and passionate in their representation. These legal professionals also have over 120 years of combined experience in assisting injured parties. Do yourself a favor and contact them now!