Washington Enacts Two Major Animal Protection Measures

May 10, 2019

Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee advocated for Washington’s pets and pet owners when he signed a new bill into law prohibiting the deceptive financing schemes known as pet leases. Washington follows Nevada, California, New York and Indiana in enacting this critical animal protection legislation.

Pet store puppies—most of whom come from puppy mills—are expensive. That’s where pet leasing comes in. To make puppies appear more affordable, pet sellers team up with private lending companies to offer customers low monthly payment plans, all the while padding the price with hidden fees that end up costing the unwitting buyer double or triple the original price tag. Worse, the lending company owns the animal for the entire duration of the lease, which might last years. That means—should a customer default on a payment—the lender can legally repossess the beloved pet.

We are grateful to Representative Derek Stanford for his leadership on this issue, and to Governor Inslee for signing this legislation to protect consumers and pets from these predatory financing agreements. We’d also like to note that last month, Gov. Inslee signed S.B. 5004 to expand the types of services that municipal and nonprofit shelters can provide to low income pet owners—from microchipping, vaccinations and sterilization to any medical procedure within a veterinarian or veterinary technician’s scope of practice. This bill also expands shelters’ abilities to provide emergency services to animals and permits them to provide care for any sick animal for up to 30 days post adoption.

“Current law restricts the types of services that nonprofit shelters can provide to pet owners, but with the enactment of S.B. 5004, these lifesaving services will be accessible to more pet owners throughout the state,” said Susan Riggs, Senior Director of State Legislation for the ASPCA, Western Region. “We’d like to thank the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies and the Washington Veterinary Medical Association for their involvement in moving this critical bill forward.”

The ASPCA commends Gov. Inslee and Washington State lawmakers for enacting these two crucial animal protection measures that will help keep people and pets together.

If you’d like to help pass animal-protection laws like pet leasing bans in your state, please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.