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The Washington State Senate Committee on Law and Justice is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Thurs., Jan. 16, 2020, at 10 AM, on a bill on that would allow citizens to use reasonable force to enter a vehicle if they believe that a domestic animal inside the vehicle is in imminent danger.

Under Senate Bill 6151, a person would be immune from criminal and civil liability for property damage or injury that results from their forced entry if the following apply: 

  • The vehicle is locked and there is no other manner to remove the animal;
  • The person has a good faith belief that domestic animal is in imminent danger of suffering bodily harm or death unless it is removed from the vehicle;
  • The person makes a good faith effort to contact a local law enforcement agency, fire department, animal control, or the 911 emergency services system prior to forcibly entering the vehicle;
  • The person places a note on vehicle with the person’s contact information, the reason for entry and location of the animal;
  • The person uses no more force than necessary to remove the animal;
  • The person remains with the animal in a safe, nearby location until emergency first responders arrive; and
  • The animal is turned over to law enforcement, animal control, firefighters or other emergency responders.

It is unclear if there is recourse for the owner of the vehicle or animal for damage when the animal in the car was not in danger.  Additionally, there is no recourse in the bill for the animal’s owner if the animal injures the person removing it from the vehicle or if the animal escapes and is injured, lost or killed.

Those who wish to comment on Senate Bill 6151 may contact the members of the Senate Committee on Law and Justice:

Chair Sen. Jamie Pedersen
Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Manka Dhingra
Manka.Dhingra@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Lynda Wilson
Lynda.Wilson@leg.wa.gov

Ranking Member Sen. Mike Padden
Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Patty Kuderer
kuderer.patty@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Jesse Salomon
Jesse.Salomon@leg.wa.gov

Sen. Jeff Holy
Jeff.Holy@leg.wa.gov

AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor this proposal and provide updates.  For more information, contact AKC GR at doglaw@akc.org.

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