Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1949 No. 178 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


County Commissioners may by resolution or ordinance regulate animals running at large in the unincorporated areas of their respective counties and provide for the appointment of a county poundmaster.

There is no basic reason why a city poundmaster may not be also appointed as a county poundmaster.

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                                                               December 13, 1949

Honorable Joe L. Johnson
Prosecuting Attorney
Court House
Kelso, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 178

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of November 25, 1949, in which you ask the following questions:

            1. May county commissioners appoint a poundmaster to pick up animals running at large in the unincorporated areas of such county?

            2. Is there any objection to the same person holding the position of city poundmaster and also the position of county poundmaster?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            1. County commissioners may adopt resolutions or ordinances restricting animals from running at large and may appoint a poundmaster to pick up and impound such animals.

            2. A city poundmaster may be appointed a county poundmaster by the board of county commissioners.


             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Subdivision (7), section 1, chapter 61, Laws of 1947, [4056 Rem. Supp. 1947] provides that the boards of county commissioners are authorized and required:

            "To make and enforce, by appropriate resolutions or ordinances, all such police and sanitary regulations as are not in conflict with state law, and provided that any violation of such regulations, ordinances, or resolutions shall constitute a misdemeanor: Provided, No such regulation shall be effective unless before its adoption, a public hearing has been held thereon by the Board of County Commissioners of which at least ten days' notice has been given.  The notice must set out a copy of the proposed regulations and the day, hour and place of hearing.  The notice must be given by publication in the newspaper in which legal notices of the county are printed."

            The regulation of cattle running at large would seem to be a proper subject for county regulation under the above subdivision, and necessarily, the commissioners have the power to secure a person to enforce such ordinances, that is, a county poundmaster.

            We know of no rule of law which would prevent a person holding office as poundmaster in an incorporated city from being appointed or holding the office of poundmaster within a county.  The county commissioners would have the power to appoint any person they considered qualified for the position of poundmaster.  Much might depend upon the ordinance or regulation adopted by the county commissioners as above set forth.

            We can see no basic reason why a person holding the office of poundmaster in a city would not be eligible to hold a similar position in a county.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General