Friday, January 6, 2012

Updated: WA Health Certificates for Rabbits and Other Animals

Apparently the Show Rabbit Protection society is researching entry requirements for rabbits in various states. Here is their report on WA.

An excerpt:
There is at this time, no exemption in place for rabbits traveling into Washington that has been obtained by any agency or group including the ARBA.

We spoke with the staff in Dr. Paul Kohr's office, the Wa. Assistant State Veterinarian concerning traveling into Washington with show or sale rabbits.

At this time, all rabbits entering Washington regardless of quantity are required to have a veterinary health certificate from their out of state veterinarian before entering Washington for show or sale stating the rabbit is healthy and free of communicable disease and meets all of Washington's health standards.

I would recommend that you read the entire post.

The way WA law is written, technically any animal down to the level of an earthworm is required to have a health certificate, unless it is specifically exempted.

WAC 16-54-030 "(1)(a) A certificate of veterinary inspection must accompany all animals entering Washington state, except where specifically exempted in this chapter. Certificates of veterinary inspection expire thirty days from the date of issuance."

RCW 16.36.005(1) "Animal" means all members of the animal kingdom except humans, fish, and insects. However, "animal" does not mean noncaptive wildlife as defined in RCW 77.08.010, except as used in RCW 16.36.050(1) and 16.36.080 (1), (2), (3), and (5).

The exemptions can be found in the WAC section on animal importation.

It is important to be informed.

Addendum to post January 7, 2012:

It has come to our attention that some were misinterpreting our previous post as saying that people are not required to have health certificates for small animals coming from one town to another across state lines. So we have revised that paragraph to be more clear, as follows:

"Of course they aren't sending out staff to stop every car and see if you are smuggling a mouse across state lines, and RCW 16:36:045 indicates that inspections are "with emphasis on livestock being brought in from outside the state." But they *do* legally have the right to stop your vehicle and check for animals that have inappropriately entered the state. The fines and consequences if you do get stopped and they verify that you have brought non-exempted animals into the state without a health certificate are outlined in the law. The animal can be quarantined and tested at your expense, can be euthanized under certain conditions, and you can be subject to fines or other penalties."

Note that each individual animal is apparently considered a separate violation even if they are all traveling together. Each day it occurs is also considered a separate violation.

The bottom line is, the law clearly states that *all* animals not otherwise exempted need to have a health certificate when entering Washington. Communications from the state department have verified that this does include brief visits for shows.

According to the SRPS research, you are not required to have a health certificate when re-entering Washington with an animal that originated in Washington and is returning to the state within 30 days of when it left. Health certificates are only required for animals from out of state, not for animals being transported in Washington that originated in Washington.

Here are some of the relevant laws. Please click through each link to read the rest of the law--we are only posting excerpts on the blog for most of them.

RCW 16.36.050

(1) It is unlawful for a person to bring an animal into Washington state without first securing a certificate of veterinary inspection, reviewed by the state veterinarian of the state of origin, verifying that the animal meets the Washington state animal health requirements. This subsection does not apply to:

(a) Those animals that qualify for an exemption in RCW 16.36.140; or

(b) Other animals exempted by the director by rule.

RCW 16.36.110: Violations, gross misdemeanor

(1) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or the rules adopted under this chapter shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. Each day upon which a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation.

RCW 16.36.113
Violations of chapter or rules — Civil penalty — Moneys collected — Time and mileage fee.

(1) Any person in violation of this chapter or its rules may be subject to a civil penalty in an amount of not more than one thousand dollars for each violation. Each violation is a separate and distinct offense. Every person who, through an act of commission or omission, procures, aids, or abets in the violation is in violation of this chapter or its rules and may be subject to the civil penalty provided in this section. Moneys collected under this section must be deposited in the state general fund.

(2) The department may charge a time and mileage fee for the cost of an investigation including inspecting animals and related records during an investigation of a proven violation of this chapter. The fee may be up to eighty-five dollars per hour and the current mileage rate set by the office of financial management. The director may increase the hourly fee by rule as necessary to cover costs of investigations. All fees collected pursuant to this subsection shall be deposited in an account in the agricultural local fund and used to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

[2011 c 204 § 11; 2007 c 71 § 4.]

The law on checkpoints and stopping vehicles for inspection:

RCW 16.36.045
Transporting of animals — Requirements — Vehicle inspection — Authorization by director or appointed officers.

The director may establish points of inspection for vehicles transporting animals on the public roads of this state to determine if the animals being transported are accompanied by valid health certificates, permits, or other documents as required by this chapter or its rules. Vehicles transporting animals on the public roads of this state are subject to inspection and must stop at any posted inspection point established by the director, with emphasis on livestock being brought in from outside the state. The director or appointed officers are authorized to stop a vehicle transporting animals upon the public roads of this state at a place other than an inspection point if there is reasonable cause to believe the animals are being transported in violation of this chapter or its rules.

[2007 c 71 § 1.]

This law addresses animals being transported without required documentation even within the state (i.e. not just while crossing the border). Our understanding is that this only applies to animals that were required to have a health certificate (CVI) in the first place (i.e. animals from outside WA). It does not apply to transporting an animal *from* Washington within the state, since a CVI is not required for them.

RCW 16.36.116 states,

"(1) Any person found transporting animals on the public roads of this state that are not accompanied by valid health certificates, permits, or other documents as required by this chapter or its rules has committed a class 1 civil infraction."

There is a fee schedule for fines here: WAC 16-92-020: Penalty schedule for notices of infraction. It's currently $100 per violation for the first offense.

The law also gives them the right to search your home or other property if they have reason to believe you have animals that were brought in illegally:

RCW 16.36.060
Tests, examinations, inspections, samples, examine and copy records — Entry onto property — Unlawful conduct — Seizure of property — Search warrant.

(1) The director has the authority to enter a property at any reasonable time to:

(b) Determine, when there is reasonable cause to investigate, whether animals on the property have been imported into Washington state in violation of requirements of this chapter, and to conduct tests, examinations, and inspections, take samples, and examine and copy records during such investigations.

(3) If the director is denied access to a property or animals for purposes of this chapter, or a person fails to comply with an order of the director, the director may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a search warrant. To show that access is denied, the director shall file with the court an affidavit or declaration containing a description of all attempts to notify and locate the owner or owner's agent and secure consent. The court may issue a search warrant authorizing access to any animal or property at reasonable times to conduct investigations, tests, inspections, or examinations of any animal or property, or to take samples, and examine and copy records, and may authorize seizure or destruction of property.

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