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Washington Animal Negligence

Stephen Bulzomi John Christensen Jeremy Johnston James McCormick Gemma Zanowski

Animal negligence is a tragic but disturbingly common occurrence.

In the State of Washington, Animal Cruelty in the First Degree occurs when a person “…intentionally inflicts substantial pain on, causes physical injury to, or kills an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forces a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death on an animal” while Animal Cruelty in the Second Degree occurs when: “…under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the person knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal, fails to provide the animal with necessary food, water, shelter, rest, sanitation, ventilation, space, or medical attention and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure; or abandons the animal.”

Unlike many state statutes that only apply to dogs, cats or companion animals, animal neglect law in the State of Washington generally covers birds, reptiles, amphibians, nonhuman mammals, and in some cases “…every creature, either alive or dead, other than a human being.”

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Animal Cruelty in the First Degree is a Class C Felony, punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or probational periods on top of fines up to $10,000; Animal Cruelty in the Second Degree is punishable by imprisonment of up to 364 days and fines up to $5,000 if the offense is found to be a gross misdemeanor, or punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and 90 days of imprisonment if the offense is decided to be a misdemeanor.

Convicted persons must also often pay all animal treatment costs and forfeit all rights to own or otherwise be in the presence of the afflicted animal as well as any other animal of a similar species. Exceptions to these charges occur regularly in cases of game law, venomous reptiles, the killing of animals for food, scientific research, animal husbandry or rodeo, and in circumstances of extreme poverty, wherein severe economic distress has rendered the defendant unable to afford proper animal care.

Common signs of animal negligence include chained dogs, animal hoarding, or abandoned pets. Other situations that may arise related to animal neglect include:

Do you believe that someone may have treated your pet in a cruel or inhumane manner? Are you aware of another animal that you believe is being abused or neglected by its owner? Do you have reason to believe that an organization, institution or corporation may be maltreating animals? If any of the above situations are true, not only is it in your own best interest to act today by alerting the attorneys at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel (and likely the authorities), but it is also your moral obligation to protect animal welfare.