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End Animal Cruelty in Washington State

Vision Statement

The WSVMA and the veterinarians it represents are deeply committed to: Leading society on matters of animal welfare and well-being; caring for the needs of animals, protecting animal and public health, conserving livestock resources and advancing biomedical knowledge; and educating and engaging on regulation and legislation involving human-animal interactions.

Washington law prohibits the following as animal cruelty:

  • Intentionally (a) inflicting substantial pain on, (b) causing physical injury to, or (c) killing an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forcing a minor to inflict unnecessary pain, injury, or death on an animal.
  • Knowingly engaging in sexual conduct or contact with an animal or activities related to such behavior (photographs/films, organizes, participates as observer, allows on premises, etc.).
  • Knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal including:
    • Failure to provide necessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention resulting in unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain to the animal;
    • Abandonment resulting in bodily harm or imminent and substantial risk of substantial bodily harm to the animal.
  • Animal fighting of dogs or male chickens, including spectating or other co-conspiring activities.
  • Using dogs or cats as bait.
  • Intentionally poisoning an animal (not including euthanasia by an animal’s owner, authorized agent or public official in a humane manner or reasonable use of rodenticides, insecticides, slug bait, etc., for their intended purposes).
  • Transporting or accepting delivery of non-ambulatory livestock.
  • Public abandonment of old, maimed or diseased domestic animals.
  • Cutting off more than half the ear of any domestic animal except as a customary husbandry practice; tail docking in horses; use of hook to pierce flesh or mouth of any bird/mammal (misdemeanors).
  • Certain dog breeding and keeping practices as set forth in RCW 16.52.310.
  • Transporting animals on the running board, fenders, hood, or other outside part of any vehicle unless suitable harness, cage or enclosure is provided as set forth in RCW 46.61.660.

RCW 16.52 contains current Washington laws concerning animal cruelty. Local jurisdictions may have additional laws governing animal cruelty.

Farm Animal Welfare Symposium View the presentations from the September event co-sponsored by the WSVMA
AAHA’s Animal Welfare Position Statements

Animal Abuse: To Report or Not to Report? An article from

ASPCA: Includes links to ASPCAPro for Animal Welfare Professionals, as well as National Animal Poison Control Center, the premier animal toxicology resource.

AVMA Animal Welfare Division: Main access page for AVMA Animal Welfare Division which includes Animal Welfare Forum Proceedings, brochures, presentations, legislative and regulatory issues.

AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals – revised for 2013

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare section: Links to what our neighbors to the north are doing with regard to Animal Welfare.

US Department of Agriculture APHIS Animal Welfare Center

Animal Welfare Information Clearinghouse (USDA’s Nat’l Agricultural Library) Provides information for improved animal care and use in research, testing, teaching, and exhibition.

US Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare


ANIMAL WELFARE: Seeing the forest AND the trees
American Veterinary Medical Association

Veterinary Pain Management
by Gaynor Muir: much information regarding methods for assessing pain, pre-emptive analgesia. etc.

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (Hardcover – Jan 6, 2009)

Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (Paperback – Jan 2, 2006)

Humane Livestock Handling: Understanding livestock behavior and building facilities for healthier animals by Temple Grandin (Paperback – Jun 1, 2008)

Animal Rights & Human Morality by Bernard E. Rollin (Paperback – Sep 30, 2006)

The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain, and Science by Bernard E. Rollin (Hardcover – May 30, 1998)

Veterinary Forensics, Animal Cruelty Investigations by Melinda D. Merck, DVM

Maximizing Quality of Life In Ill Animals, Journal of AAHA 2003;39: 227-235

NOTE: The information contained in the documents presented in this section is not to be used as a substitute for professional care. Neither the authors nor the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in these self-help documents.