Lake Stevens, WA asked in Animal / Dog Law for Washington

Q: How old do you have to be to own a dog in Washington state???

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1 Lawyer Answer
Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons
  • Burlington, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: That's a really good question, and the answer depends on different factors. In general, to be able to enter into contracts in Washington, you must be 18 years old or older (an "adult"), and not under some other legal constraint. Things like pet licenses and veterinary care services contracts require one to be an adult (because you have to be able to sign contracts), so unless there is an adult who could take over that responsibility for you, you would have a hard time doing things that require being a legal adult in order to care for a pet. That does not mean people who are not yet legal adults are not worthy of pet ownership by virtue of their age, it simply means that until age 18, you are under what's sometimes known as a "legal disability". Others have likely already told you that pets are a lifetime responsibility (the pet's lifetime) and expensive to maintain, but those who love their pets accept those responsibilities readily and without question, and stay the course through the stuff that is sometimes unpleasant. If you are still under 18 years old, you can make good use of the time until then by learning all you can about budgeting for pet ownership in addition to the usual care, feeding, and general stewardship of pets. If you are old enough to volunteer at a pet rescue organization, you could also spend some time learning things there that you don't already know.

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