House committee approves Rep. Michelle Caldier’s ‘Runaway Ray’ bill

In a unanimous vote, the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved legislation Thursday that would change state law governing stray livestock.

The legislation, House Bill 2500, is sponsored by Rep. Michelle Caldier, and would provide an opportunity for families to purchase stray livestock instead of requiring the animal(s) to be auctioned off.

Caldier drafted the bill after hearing the story of Runaway Ray, a partially blind Shetland pony found wandering the Key Peninsula by a local resident. Due to state rules governing stray livestock, the resident was not allowed to keep the pony. Instead, he was boarded by Pierce County at a cost of $2,880 while the county searched for his owner. After the owner could not be found, the pony was put up for auction, and the local resident placed a $625 winning bid.

Caldier says that arduous and expensive process shouldn't have to be repeated.

“This entire process cost the county thousands of dollars and was not in the best interest of Runaway Ray or the parties involved,” said Caldier, R-Port Orchard. “This legislation offers a small reform to how state government operates, but it would save counties money and is the right thing to do for our families and communities.”

Under the bill, individuals who wish to house stray livestock must satisfy certain criteria. This includes having a suitable facility or house for keeping the animal(s) and agreeing to provide all appropriate services (food, water, and veterinary care) for them at the individual's own expense. An agreement must also be signed to allow the county, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and brand inspectors reasonable access to the animal while it is in the custody of the host.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov