Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tracking Animal Laws

There are many laws and events that animal owners in Washington need to be aware of. We need your help researching and writing articles about these. Please drop us a note if you would like to help.

Here are a couple of places to start with tracking animal-related laws:

The Washington State Legislature website has a list of legislation with different ways to search on their Bill Information page, as well as various resources such as committee reports. There is a link to search "Bills by Topic." Look under agriculture, livestock and animals, for a start. We need people to browse these regularly and help bring relevant bills to our attention.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) posts some information on their home page, and also has a page with links where you can track proposed laws and rules, view a calendar of events that lists things like hearings, and find other important information.

There are two major sets of laws and rules that animal owners need to be aware of. First, the RCW, or Revised Code of Washington, is made up of laws that have passed through the legislative process and been signed into law. Secondly, the WACs, or Washington Administrative Code, is the collection of rules that govern how any of those laws pertaining to agriculture, disease control, etc. are enforced. So, for instance, the legislature will pass a law (RCW) about health certificates, and then the Department of Agriculture will make a rule (WAC) about how to implement it, what the exceptions are, how and when it applies, etc.

The Department of Agriculture is not involved in making laws or enforcing them about things like animal cruelty; they deal with things like import regulations, disease control and such.

Of course, federal laws also impact people in Washington. So we need to monitor and inform people about animal-related legislative activity nationally. The USDA website page on laws and regulations is a good place to start for that.

Animallaw.com is another helpful resource.

Even some of the activist sites that seek to eliminate ownership of animals or give them equal status with humans can be helpful, as several of them provide information about pending legislation and petitions. If you see one of those groups asking people to call their legislators or sign a petition about something, that would be a good time to take a look and see if we need to get out the word so people can contact their legislators to let them know there is opposition to it.

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