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Legislative Action Alerts
Washington State SB 5649

2/22/11: Washington State Senate and House bills that would prohibit the tethering of dogs...update
Provided by Steve Madsen

Congrats to all that made their voices heard. SB 5649 was passed out of committee with a specific exemption for sled dogs:

NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 16.52 RCW to read as follows:


(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a dog:


(b) That is an arctic breed that is used for sled dog activities;

I still think this legislation misses the point that neglect is the real issue regardless of the means of constraint, but at least we appear safe for now. I suggest we all renew our subscriptions to Mush with PRIDE and make kennel care an educational priority in our public contacts. Cheers!

The amended bill can be read here

 2/19/11: Washington State Senate and House bills that would prohibit the tethering of dogs...update
Provided by Tim McElravy

Copy of email sent by Tim to Washington Senators:

Dear Senators,

My name is Tim McElravy and I live in the 12th Legislative District. I first wrote several of you earlier this week and I know many of you have heard from other Dog Mushers with regards to SB 5649. I am dog musher who owns 12 Purebred Alaskan Malamutes and who operates a sled dog touring business near Leavenworth.

I spoke with an aid in Senator’s Harper’s office earlier this afternoon and she led me to believe that our efforts to reach you and get an amendment on this bill that would give a provision to Dog Mushers like myself, may be working...however in reading the attached Senate Bill Report for SB 5649 I feel compelled to keep writing and calling in an effort to educate you on the impact this legislation would have on the Dog Mushing community in Washington State as well as those who raise working dogs.

We are not your average pet owners. We have many dogs and many of us keep these dogs on tethers. Contrary to what is stated in your Senate Bill report our dogs are not dogs that bite adults and children. Our dogs are well socialized, well cared for and live better lives than many dogs of the “average pet owner”. I invite you to see for yourselves how many sled dogs are kept. Here is a link to a video of my dogs in my dog yard that I took two weeks ago.  You can see my dogs are happy, well cared for, they have shelter, food and water and they are able to interact with each other...wrestling, playing, snuggling ...hardly the “lonely, viscous, abused dogs” as your information states in the Senate Bill report. I would also argue that tethering a dog such as we do is more humane that kenneling them. Your report states “It is believed that tethered dogs are more likely to bite because they are usually unsocialized; their living space is reduced to a few square feet, which heightens their territoriality...” I have 3 10’(long)X4’(wide)X6’(tall) kennels that I keep puppies, sick/recovering dogs or bitches in season in. This gives each dog 40 square feet to live in while inside each kennel. In my dog yard the dogs live on 6’ chain tethers. This gives them approx 113 square feet of space to live in...nearly 3 times as much space as in the “humane kennel”.

What I believe this boils down to is personal responsibility. While appreciate the intent of this bill to prevent cruel and inhumane treatment to dogs of any breed, I believe that this bill infringes upon my rights as a responsible dog owner and if passed as is would put my entire operation, my dogs whom I love dearly, and our touring business in jeopardy. At the very least needs an amendment to allow mushers like myself to continue to keep our dogs as we always have. I’d also invite you to visit the Mush with Pride web site and see the guidelines we mushers have imposed on ourselves as the Standards in care for Sled Dogs. This link talks specifically about tethering systems commonly used to keep sled dogs  

Please take a closer look at all of this and put an amendment on this bill that will make provisions for sled dogs and other working dogs. Please make this bill what is what intended to punish those that are irresponsible and neglect/abuse dogs. Not to Punish those of us who love and care for our dogs and care for them in a responsible and humane way.

Thank you.

Tim McElravy,
Owner THZ Kennels, Leavenworth, WA
Member of Northwest Sled Dog Association
Member of Mush With Pride

Information from Sue Scofield:

I attended the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today. Senate Bill 5649 passed the committee. If I understand the process, the Bill will now be read in open session of the Senate and then referred to the Rules Committee, who can either place the Bill on the Calendar for a second reading or take no action. I intend on forwarding the Mush with Pride guidelines to the bill sponsors.

This seems to be a very emotional topic for some of the Committee members, who certainly did not indicate that they understood the perspective from the owner/operator of a sled dog kennel. More work is needed.

At this point, it is the Senators to contact, as it has not reached the House yet.


Provided by Tim McElravy

Washington State Senate and House bills that would prohibit the tethering of dogs...this is a problem for many mushers...

I just got word about these bills....please forward onto the Club and ask that we all contact our representatives and urge them to make a provision for sled dogs...below is the Email I sent to my Representatives tonight...I will be calling them in the AM.

These bills can be found at Bills/5649.pdf  and Bills/1755.pdf

If enacted into law this would happen on JULY 1 2011!!! This is scary would pretty much wipe us out.

This is the email I sent:

My name is Tim McElravy and I live up at Lake Wenatchee. I am writing you tonight because I just found out about Senate Bill number 5649 and House Bill number 1755. I own and operate a Sled Dog tour Business of 12 Purebred Alaskan Malamutes. We keep our Dog on tethers as is common practice amongst people who raise and keep sled dogs. I am deeply concerned of what Senate Bill 5649 and House Bill 1745 would do to us if they are passed into law as is. I understand why these bills are being considered but I want to know what I can do to (if anything) to make a provision for sled dog kennels such as mine. We are Members of Mush with Pride and we passed a voluntary kennel inspection program that says our dogs are kept humanly and in accordance with Standards of care for sled dogs. This past September I was visited by the Wenatchee Humane Society and passed a kennel inspection with flying colors. I fear that this bill will not allow me to keep my dogs and will cost me my beloved dogs and our family business.

I am also a part of the Northwest Sled Dog Association (NWSDA ) I will be forwarding this on to our club and asking that our members contact their representatives as well.

This is something that really scares me...the Bills say they will be enacted into law as of July 1, 2011. If this happens I do not know what we will do. I do not want to lose my dogs. Please get back to me and let me know how we can fix this bill so that it works for sled dog kennels too. I Would also invite any one or all of you to come view our Kennel and see how we keep our dogs. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tim & Pam McElravy THZ Kennels

The Sponsor for the SB 5649 is Senator Nick Harper 360.786.7674 and the Sponsor for the House HB 1755 is Rep Roger Goodman 360.786.7878.

I spoke with Senator Harper's office and they will look into an amendment to make provision for sled dogs kennels. His aide said that the intent of this bill was to prevent abuse situations to dogs just left on a chain...he said they we unaware that sled dogs should even be considered. Anyway the calls took me less than 20 min to complete and all were very happy to talk with me...please consider calling yourselves and let our voices be heard. When I hear more on this issue I will forward on.

Please contact:

Representative Jamie Pedersen (House Judiciary chair)
Phone: 360.786.7826

Representative Jay Rodne (House Judiciary ranking minority member)
Phone: 360.786.7852

Senator Adam Kline (Senate Judiciary chair)
Phone: 360.786.7688

Senator Cheryl Pflug (Senate Judiciary ranking minority member)
Phone: 360.786.7608

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