updated 3/3/2009 5:25:21 AM ET 2009-03-03T10:25:21

A dog may be man's best friend, but based on a few antiquated Washington state laws, you wouldn't necessarily know it: Two state statutes require dog owners and sheriffs to kill wandering dogs.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday that could repeal both.

"I thought it was a joke. I didn't realize that this was in statute," said state Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Bellingham, sponsor of the measure to repeal the old laws. "They need to go."

One of the laws in question gives dog owners 48 hours to kill their dog if it is found killing another animal. The other law requires sheriffs to kill any dog running at large without a metal dog tag between the months of August and February.

The measure now moves to the House for consideration.

Both laws have been on the books since the early 1900s when the health and welfare of livestock was of greater concern to state residents.

Supporters say they are now outdated and just plain cruel.

Protecting livestock
But Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who voted for the bill, said the Senate was nonetheless missing an opportunity to protect livestock owners.

Roach said there needs to be a law requiring dog owners to pay for damages caused by dogs that get loose from their owner's control. Under state law, an animal owner can shoot a dog if it bites, chases or kills an animal on his or her property. Dog owners are also required to corral their pets if a livestock owner complains of attacks. But there is no law directly requiring dog owners to pay for the damages their pets inflict.

Roach, who is know for delivering lively speeches on the Senate floor, addressed those concerns during a debate in which she told a story about a wandering dog that was terrorizing her livestock.

"I could have shot the thing — it would have been in my right to shoot the thing, but I just couldn't do it," Roach said.

Roach said the dog's owner didn't pay for the damages. She said she hopes the bill will be amended in the House to give livestock owners like herself more protections from roaming dogs.

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