Senate Bill No. 277
(By Senators Edgell, Bailey, Dempsey, Love, Facemyer and Guills)
[Originating in the Committee on Finance;
reported March 28, 2005.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated §19-9B-1, §19-9B-2,
§19-9B-3, §19-9B-4, §19-9B-5, §19-9B-6, §19-9B-7, §19-9B-8,
§19-9B-9, §19-9B-10, §19-9B-11, §19-9B-12, §19-9B-13,
§19-9B-14, §19-9B-15, §19-9B-16, §19-9B-17, §19-9B-18,
§19-9B-19, §19-9B-20, §19-9B-21, §19-9B-22 and §19-9B-23, all
relating to regulating the sale, possession and breeding of
exotic animals; stating legislative purpose; defining certain
terms; creating Exotic Animal Regulation Board and Technical
Advisory Committee; establishing duties; establishing a
special revenue account and authorizing expenditures;
providing rule-making authority; delineating the jurisdiction
of member agencies; providing owner liable for the cost of
care of a seized exotic animal and bonding requirements;
requiring pet shop registration, renewal and fee; requiring pet shop to keep records and provide certain notification;
requiring permit to possess or breed exotic animal and
providing permit application process and permit requirements;
providing for exemptions; requiring identification number on
an exotic animal; establishing caging, care and treatment
requirements; requiring liability insurance; authorizing
certain inspections; providing for denial of a permit;
specifying conditions under which an exotic animal may be
seized; and establishing civil and criminal penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new article, designated §19-9B-1, §19-9B-2,
§19-9B-3, §19-9B-4, §19-9B-5, §19-9B-6, §19-9B-7, §19-9B-8,
§19-9B-9, §19-9B-10, §19-9B-11, §19-9B-12, §19-9B-13, §19-9B-14,
§19-9B-15, §19-9B-16, §19-9B-17, §19-9B-18, §19-9B-19, §19-9B-20,
§19-9B-21, §19-9B-22 and §19-9B-23, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9B. ANIMAL REGULATION ACT.
§19-9B-1. Purpose; short title.
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature to regulate the sale,
possession, use, release, movement and breeding of exotic animals
in order to prevent the introduction or spread of disease or
parasites harmful to humans, wildlife, livestock, poultry and other
animals; to prevent the release or escape of an exotic animal
injurious to or competitive with the state's agricultural and forestry industries, wildlife and other natural resource interests;
to ensure the physical safety of humans; and to prevent the
mistreatment of exotic animals.
(b) This article may be cited as the West Virginia Animal
As used in this article:
(1) "Board" means the Exotic Animal Regulation Board.
(2) "Circus" means an entertainment consisting of trained
animal acts and exhibitions of human skill and daring combined with
clowns to thrill and amuse an audience. The term excludes
carnivals, animal acts and state and county fairs and any other
fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and
sciences and all other activities determined by the Board not to be
(3) "Committee" means the Technical Advisory Committee.
(4) "Domestic animal" means an animal which, through extremely
long association with humans, has been bred to a degree that
resulted in genetic changes affecting the temperament, color,
conformation or other attributes of the species to an extent that
makes the animal unique and distinguishable from wild members of
the species and the animal has federally approved biologics for the
treatment and prevention of disease.
(5) "Exotic animal" means an animal, other than a domestic animal or wildlife, and includes crossbreeds of animals that do not
occur naturally either presently or historically within the
boundaries of this state, as well as, all species listed as
threatened or endangered in accordance with 16 U. S. C. §1533 not
presently or historically native to this state.
(6) "Person" means, but is not limited to, an individual,
partnership, limited partnership, corporation, organization, firm,
limited liability company, joint venture, association, trust,
estate, and any officer, member, shareholder, director, employee,
agent or representative who is under a duty to perform or is
responsible for the performance of an act prescribed by the
provisions of this article.
(7) "Pet" means an animal kept by a person for companionship
or pleasure rather than for utility.
(8) "Pet shop" means a facility where an animal is kept for
the purpose of sale. The term excludes a facility subject to the
provisions of article twenty or twenty-three of this chapter;
(9) "Possess" means to own, harbor, keep, release, exhibit,
bring into the state, offer for sale, offer for trade or have
custody or control of an animal.
(10) "Possessor" means the person who owns, harbors, keeps,
releases, exhibits, brings into the state, offers for sale, offers
for trade or has custody or control of an animal.
(11) "Sale" means and includes, but is not limited to, any transfer of ownership or title, whether for money, exchange for
other property or services or without any remuneration.
(12) "Wildlife" means wildlife and game fish as those terms
are defined in section two, article one, chapter twenty of this
code, fish and all animals commonly accepted and documented to live
in the wild as part of the present or historic natural fauna of
§19-9B-3. Board created; composition; chair; meetings; duties.
(a) The Exotic Animal Regulation board is created.
(b) The Board shall consist of three members: the Commissioner
of the Department of Agriculture, or his or her designee; the
Director of the Division of Natural Resources, or his or her
designee; and the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, or
his or her designee.
(c) The Board shall designate one of its members in rotation
to be chair for a term of two years. In the absence of the chair,
any member designated by the members present shall act as chair.
(d) The Board shall meet as often as necessary at the time and
place designated by the chair. Two members shall be present in
order to conduct business. All decisions of the Board shall be
determined by a majority of the members of the Board.
(e) The Board may:
(1) Establish requirements for the operation of pet shops
selling or breeding exotic animals, including standards of care for those animals;
(2) Establish permit requirements for the possession and
breeding of exotic animals and grant, deny, suspend, revoke and
reinstate possession or breeding permits;
(3) Establish standards for the care and treatment of exotic
(4) Prohibit the importation of any exotic animal that
threatens the public health and safety, endangers wildlife or
livestock or may be injurious to the agricultural and forestry
industries or other natural resource interests;
(5) Investigate alleged violations of the provisions of this
article, applicable rules, orders and final decisions of the board;
(6) Conduct necessary hearings;
(7) Cooperate with appropriate state and federal officials in
the investigation and enforcement of violations of this article or
comparable acts of other states or the federal government;
(8) Examine, seize, test, quarantine or destroy an exotic
animal which poses a threat to the health and safety of humans,
other animals or plant life;
(9) Grant exemptions from the requirements of this article;
(10) Foster national and international wildlife conservation
efforts by controlling the possession and use of exotic animals;
(11) Take all other actions necessary and proper to effectuate the purposes of this article.
(f) The members of the Board may delegate the duties set forth
in this article to staff members within their agencies.
§19-9B-4. Technical Advisory Committee created; composition;
(a) The Technical Advisory Committee is created.
(b) The Committee shall consist of nine members: Three members
representing the Department of Agriculture designated by the
Commissioner of Agriculture; three members representing the
Division of Natural Resources designated by the Director of Natural
Resources; and three members representing the Bureau for Public
Health designated by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public
(c) The Committee shall designate one of its members in
rotation to be chair for a term of two years. In the absence of
the chair, any member designated by the members present shall act
(d) The Committee shall meet as often as necessary at the time
and place designated by the chair. All decisions of the Committee
shall be determined by a majority of the members of the Committee.
(e) The Committee shall make recommendations to and advise the
Board on matters within the board's jurisdiction.
§19-9B-5. Establishment of Special Revenue Fund; authorized
There is created in the State Treasury a Special Revenue Fund
to be known as the Animal Regulation Fees Fund which shall consist
of all fees, civil penalties, assessed costs, any appropriations of
moneys to the Fund made by the Legislature, and all interest or
other return earned from investment of the Fund. Expenditures from
the Fund shall be made by the Commissioner of Agriculture for the
purposes set forth in this article. Any balance, including accrued
interest and other returns, in the Fund at the end of each fiscal
year shall not expire to the General Fund but shall remain in the
Fund and be expended as provided by this section.
§19-9B-6. Rule-making authority.
(a) The Board may propose rules for legislative approval in
accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter
twenty-nine-a of this code to implement the provisions of this
(b) The Board may promulgate emergency rules pursuant to the
provisions of section fifteen, article three, chapter twenty-nine-a
of this code to implement the provisions of this article.
§19-9B-7. Administration of article; jurisdiction of member
(a) The Department of Agriculture is responsible for the
administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article.
(b) Each member agency may examine, test, seize, quarantine or
destroy an exotic animal which poses a threat to humans, livestock, poultry, other animals, wildlife or the state's agricultural or
forestry industries or other natural resource interests. In all
cases in which an exotic animal is destroyed, the member agency
shall safely dispose of the remains in accordance with all
applicable laws and rules. The agency shall advise the Board of
action taken pursuant to this subsection no later than forty-eight
hours after the incident.
(c) Nothing in this article shall affect or abrogate the
authority of the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau for Public
Health or the Division of Natural Resources to carry out the duties
set forth in chapters sixteen, nineteen and twenty of this code,
§19-9B-8. Costs of care for seized animal; bond; placement.
(a) The owner of an exotic animal seized by the Board is
liable for all costs of treatment and care while the exotic animal
is under the control of the Board.
(b) The Board shall determine the appropriate placement of the
seized exotic animal based upon the threat posed by the exotic
(c) The Board may require an owner to post a bond in an amount
and form to be determined by the Board which is sufficient to
provide for the reasonable costs of treatment and care of the
exotic animal during the period of confinement. If an owner fails
to post the required bond, the Board may, after notice and an opportunity for the owner to be heard, declare the exotic animal
forfeited to the state.
(d) An exotic animal seized by the Board in accordance with
the provisions of this article may be returned to the owner only if
the Board determines that the exotic animal poses no threat to
humans, other animals or plant life.
§19-9B-9. Pet shop registration required.
Effective the first day of January, two thousand six, a person
shall not operate a pet shop in this state unless he or she has
registered with the Board.
§19-9B-10. Registration; renewal; fee.
(a) Each pet shop owner or operator shall register on forms
supplied by the Board and provide all information required by the
(b) Registrations expire on the thirty-first day of December
of each year and shall be renewed annually. The Board shall mail
renewal forms to current registrants. The failure to receive the
renewal form does not relieve a registrant of the obligation to
renew. The Board may assess a late fee when a renewal is received
more than sixty days after the expiration of the current
(c) A pet shop owner or operator shall pay the applicable
registration or renewal fee.
§19-9B-11. Record keeping; notifications required.
(a) A pet shop owner or operator shall keep a copy of each
possession permit provided by a buyer and all other records
required to be kept by the Board for the time specified by the
(b) A pet shop owner or operator shall notify the Board of the
sale of an exotic animal as required by the Board.
(c) A pet shop owner or operator shall notify all customers
purchasing an exotic animal of the permitting requirements of this
§19-9B-12. Possession and breeding of exotic animal.
It is unlawful for any person to possess or breed an exotic
animal except in compliance with this article.
(a) No person may own, possess or breed an exotic animal
unless the person applies for and is granted a permit.
(b) A person who possesses an exotic animal on the effective
date of this article shall apply for a possession permit within
ninety days of the effective date of this article.
(c) A person buying an exotic animal shall apply for and be
granted a possession permit prior to taking possession of the
exotic animal from the seller and shall provide the seller a copy
of the possession permit.
(d) A new state resident owning an exotic animal shall apply
for a possession permit within sixty days of taking up residence in this state.
(e) A person intending to breed an exotic animal shall apply
for and must be granted a breeder permit prior to breeding an
(f) An applicant shall file an application for a permit on
forms supplied by the Board. The application shall include, but is
not limited to:
(1) The name, address, telephone number and date of birth of
(2) A description of each exotic animal to be owned or bred,
including the scientific name, name, sex, age, color, weight and
any distinguishing marks or coloration that would aid in the
identification of the animal;
(3) A photograph of each exotic animal;
(4) The exact location and a detailed description of the
holding facility where the exotic animal is to be kept;
(5) The name, address and telephone number of the person from
whom the applicant bought the exotic animal or the possessor of the
exotic animal to be used for breeding purposes;
(6) The identification number of the exotic animal required in
accordance with the provisions of section fifteen of this article
or a verified statement from a veterinarian that placement of an
identification number would endanger the exotic animal or an
exemption from this requirement granted by the Board;
(7) The name, address and phone number of the veterinarian who
is to provide veterinary care to the exotic animal; and
(8) Additional information required by the Board.
(g) The application for a possession or breeder's permit shall
be accompanied by the applicable permit fee.
(h) The Board shall not grant a permit unless it finds the
(1) The applicant is eighteen years of age or older;
(2) The applicant has not been convicted of or found
responsible for violating a state or federal law prohibiting
cruelty, neglect or mistreatment of an exotic or domestic animal or
any state or federal law relating to the possession of wildlife or
(3) The facility in which and the conditions under which the
exotic animal will be kept are in compliance with this article; and
(4) The applicant has obtained liability insurance for the
possession of an exotic animal as required by section eighteen of
(h) A permit holder shall notify the Board of any changes in
the information on the permit, including the death of the exotic
animal. A possessor shall also notify the Board of any births by
the exotic animal.
(i) Possession permits expire on the thirtieth day of June of
each year and shall be renewed annually. The Board shall mail renewal forms to current permit holders. The failure to receive
the renewal form does not relieve the permit holder of the
obligation to renew. The Board may assess a late fee when a
renewal is received more than sixty days after the expiration of
the current permit.
(j) The Board shall keep records of the permits issued.
§19-9B-14. Exemptions from permit requirements.
(a) The permit provisions of this article do not apply to:
(1) Institutions accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium
(2) A licensed or accredited research or medical institution;
(3) A veterinary hospital or clinic; or
(4) A circus operated under a valid license or registration
issued by the U. S. Department of Agriculture pursuant to the
federal Animal Welfare Act of 1970.
(b) These facilities are subject to all other provisions of
this article unless determined exempt by the Board.
§19-9B-15. Identification number.
The possessor of an exotic animal shall have an identification
number placed on the exotic animal, at his or her expense, by or
under the supervision of a veterinarian. The Board shall prescribe
the methods of identification for use by veterinarians: Provided,
That this provision does not apply to an exotic animal if a
veterinarian determines that the methods of identification will endanger the well-being of the exotic animal.
§19-9B-16. Caging requirements.
(a) The Board shall establish specific caging requirements for
the keeping and confinement of exotic animals. A person possessing
exotic animals shall keep and confine the exotic animal in strict
compliance with the caging requirements established by the Board.
(b) All caging requirements shall ensure that the exotic
animal is confined in a primary enclosure that protects the
public's safety and health and ensures the safety and well-being of
the exotic animal.
§19-9B-17. Care and treatment of exotic animals.
(a) An exotic animal shall not be tethered, leashed or chained
outdoors, or allowed to run at-large.
(b) An exotic animal shall not be released.
(c) An exotic animal shall not be mistreated, neglected,
abandoned or deprived of necessary food, water and sustenance.
(d) A person transporting an exotic animal in a vehicle shall
keep the animal securely caged in the vehicle at all times.
(e) Each possessor of an exotic animal shall have a plan for
the quick and safe recapture of the exotic animal if it escapes and
a plan for the destruction of the exotic animal if recapture
becomes impossible. This plan is not a substitute for the
notification of law-enforcement and Department of Agriculture
officials required by section eighteen of this article and the plan is not binding on law-enforcement officials who may be required to
destroy the exotic animal, if determined necessary to protect the
public health and safety.
(f) If a possessor of an exotic animal realizes that he or she
can no longer care for the exotic animal, the possessor shall
contact an approved animal rescue facility or an American Zoo and
Aquarium Association accredited facility for possible placement of
the animal. The possessor shall obtain the proper permits to
transfer any animal. If the possessor is unable to care for the
exotic animal and cannot find a permitted facility to accept the
exotic animal, the animal shall be humanely euthanized at the
§19-9B-18. Insurance; signs; and notification.
(a) A possessor of an exotic animal shall maintain liability
insurance in an amount to be determined by the Board and shall
provide a copy of the policy annually to the Board, unless exempted
by the Board.
(b) The possessor of an exotic animal shall post and display,
at each possible entrance to the premises, a conspicuous sign,
clearly legible and easily readable by the public, warning that
there is an exotic animal on the premises. In addition, the
possessor shall conspicuously display a sign with a warning symbol
that informs children of the presence of an exotic animal. The
Board shall prescribe the content and size of the sign.
(c) If any exotic animal escapes or is released, either
intentionally or unintentionally, the possessor of the exotic
animal shall immediately contact a law-enforcement officer and the
Department of Agriculture to report the escape or release. The
possessor is liable for all expenses associated with efforts to
recapture the animal. The animal may be destroyed if necessary to
protect the public health or safety.
§19-9B-19. Public contact.
Unless specifically authorized by the Board, a possessor may
not take an exotic animal to a public place, except to a
veterinarian or a veterinarian clinic.
For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this
article, an employee of the Department of Agriculture, the Division
of Natural Resources or the Bureau for Public Health may enter upon
any public or private premises, other than a dwelling house, at
reasonable times, after reasonable notification to the owner or
possessor in order to access an exotic animal for the purpose of
inspection. No person shall obstruct or hinder the employee in the
discharge of his or her duties to enforce this article.
§19-9B-21. Denial of possession permit; appeal.
(a) If the Board finds that an applicant for an original or
renewal possession permit does not meet the requirements set forth
in this article, it may deny the applicant a possession permit. The Board shall give the applicant written notice of the denial and the
reasons for the denial.
(b) If the Board finds that a person has not complied with
this article the Board may suspend or revoke the possession permit.
The Board shall give the possessor written notice of the suspension
or revocation and the reasons for the suspension or revocation.
(c) A person who is denied a possession permit, denied a
renewal of a possession permit or who has had a permit suspended or
revoked shall be afforded a hearing before the Board to be held in
accordance with the contested case provisions of article five,
chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
§19-9B-22. Seizure; return; bond.
(a) An exotic animal may be seized immediately by the Board
(1) The possessor does not have a possession permit as
required by section twelve of this article;
(2) The possessor does not secure and maintain liability
insurance as required by section eighteen of this article;
(3) The possessor is not in compliance with the provisions of
this article; or
(4) The exotic animal poses a threat to humans, other animals,
wildlife or the state's agricultural or forestry industries or
other natural resource interests.
(b) An exotic animal which was seized by the Board may be returned to the possessor only if the possessor has a possession
permit, is in compliance with this article and the exotic animal
poses no threat to humans, other animals or plant life.
(c) If an exotic animal is seized under this section, the
possessor shall post bond in accordance with the requirements of
section eight of this article.
§19-9B-23. Penalties for violation of article.
(a) Any person violating a provision of this article is guilty
of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not
less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars
for the first offense and for each subsequent offense, shall be
fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand
dollars or imprisoned in jail not more than six months, or both.
Magistrates have concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts to
enforce the provisions of this article.
(b) Any person violating the provisions of this article or
rule promulgated pursuant to this article may be assessed a civil
penalty by the Board. In determining the amount of the civil
penalty, the Board shall give due consideration to the history of
previous violations by the person, the seriousness of the
violation, including any hazards to agriculture, natural resources,
or public health in West Virginia and the demonstrated good faith
of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance with this
article after written notification of the violation.
(1) The Board may assess a penalty of not more than one
hundred dollars for the first offense or less serious violation as
determined by the Board, and not more than one thousand dollars for
a serious, repeat or intentional violation, as determined by the
(2) In addition to the civil penalty, the Board may assess the
costs to the state to recover the animal, house the animal, dispose
of the animal or moneys otherwise expended by the state to control
the spread of or to prevent the introduction of disease and
(3) The Board may negotiate and enter into a settlement
agreement for the payment of civil penalties and assessed costs.
(4) The civil penalty and assessed costs are payable to the
State of West Virginia and are collectable in any manner authorized
by law for the collection of debts. Any person liable to pay a
civil penalty or any assessed costs who neglects or refuses to pay
the same within thirty days of written notice of demand for
payment, shall be assessed interest at the rate of ten percent per
year from the date the penalty and assessed costs were imposed to
the date of payment. The penalty, costs and interest constitute a
lien in favor of the State of West Virginia and shall attach on the
person's property when a lien is properly recorded in the county
wherein the property is situated. There shall be no cost as a
condition precedent to recording.
(5) All civil penalties and assessed costs collected pursuant
to this article shall be deposited in the Animal Regulation Fees
(6) No state court may allow the recovery of damages for
administrative action taken if the court finds that there was
probable cause for the action. In the event that a court
determines that no probable cause existed for an action and that
compensation is necessary, the compensation shall not exceed the
fair market value of the exotic animal at issue. The Board shall
pay damages as determined by a state court provided funds are