H. B. 2620
(By Delegates Stemple, Beach, Swartzmiller and Anderson)
[Introduced February 23, 2005; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then Finance.]
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 and
§19-9B-9, all relating to regulating the possession and sale
of domestic and exotic animals; creating the Exotic and
Domestic Animal Public Safety Board and the Exotic and
Domestic Animal Study Commission; establishing duties;
providing rule-making authority; requiring all sellers of
animals to register; authorizing inspections; providing for
testing, seizing and quarantining animals; and establishing
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 and §19-9B-9
, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9B. REGULATION OF EXOTIC AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS.
§19-9B-1. Purpose; short title.
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent the
introduction or spread of disease or parasites harmful to humans,
wildlife, livestock, poultry and other animals; to ensure the
physical safety of humans through the ability to regulate
individual animals or species recognized as a threat to public
safety; and to allow the appropriate state regulatory agencies to
cooperate and collaborate in the development of a plan to regulate
animals kept or sold in the State of West Virginia.
(b) This article may be cited as
the "West Virginia Exotic and
Domestic Animal Control Act".
As used in this article:
(1) "Animal" means wildlife, domestic animals and exotic
animals as defined by this article.
(2) "Board" means the West Virginia Exotic and Domestic Animal
(3) "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.
(4) "Exotic animal" means an animal, other than a domestic
animal or wildlife, and includes a crossbreed of an animal that does
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.
(5) "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
(6) "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.
(7) "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.
(8) "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.
(9) "Wildlife" has the same meaning as set forth in section
two, article one, chapter twenty of this code.
§19-9B-3. Board created; composition; duties.
(a)The West Virginia Exotic and Domestic Animal Control Board
is hereby created.
(b)The Board shall consist of three members: the Commissioner
of the Department of Agriculture, or his or her designee, who shall
serve as chair; 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 have the authority to:
(1) Identify and designate any domestic or exotic animal
species 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;
(2) Conduct necessary investigations by their respective
agencies to determine which animals should be designated as threats
to the public health or safety;
(3) Cooperate with appropriate state and federal officials in
the investigation and enforcement of violations of this article or
the federal law;
(4) Propose legislative rules for the sole purpose of
designating specific species that threaten the public health and
safety and to obtain any necessary warrants regarding seizure of same. The Board may propose emergency rules in accordance with the
provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code;
(5) Seize, test, quarantine or destroy any animal which poses
a threat to the health and safety of humans or other animals or
plant life when the threat has been established by scientific
findings, provided the proper warrants have been obtained; and
(6) Establish and maintain a registry of all persons and
businesses engaged in the sale of animals in this State who have
registered to do business with the Secretary of State.
§19-9B-4. Exotic and Domestic Animal Control Study Commission
created; composition; duties.
(a) The Exotic and Domestic Animal Control Study Commission
is hereby created.
(b) The Commission shall consist of nine members: three members
will be representatives of the Department of Agriculture designated
by the Commissioner of Agriculture; three members will be
representatives of the Division of Natural Resources designated by
the Director of Natural Resources; and three members will be
representatives of the Bureau for Public Health designated by the
Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.
(c) The Commission shall seek input from veterinarians in
private practice, pet store owners, animal breeders and other
individuals in the business of the sale of or caring for animals.
(d) The Commission may make recommendations to and advise the board on matters within its jurisdiction.
(e) The Commission shall:
(1) Study the need for additional regulation in the area of
domestic and exotic animal control in West Virginia, including but
not limited to:
(A) Evaluating current applicable animal control and tracking
law as to domestic and exotic animals;
(B) Creating a full and complete list of animals and species
to be regulated by legislation;
(C) Suggesting standards for the possession, breeding,
importation, transportation, care and treatment of domestic and
(D) Determining what changes are needed to existing programs;
(E) Developing recommendations on interagency cooperation,
sharing resources and gathering information;
(F) Assessing the need for special legislation on pet shops,
zoos and aquariums, circuses, animal breeders and other businesses
involving the use or sale of animals.
(2) Report to the Legislature by the first day of February, two
thousand six, its findings and recommendations, with additional
reports on or before the first day of February each year thereafter.
§19-9B-5.Jurisdiction of member agencies.
(a)The Department of Agriculture is responsible for the
administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article.
(b)The Bureau for Public Health may examine and test a
domestic or exotic animal at any time when there is probable
scientific cause to believe that the animal is harboring disease or
parasites suspected of endangering public health.
(c)The Division of Natural Resources may examine and test a
domestic or exotic animal or wildlife at any time when there is
probable scientific cause to believe that the animal may pose a
threat to wildlife.
(d)Nothing in this article may 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 nineteen, sixteen and twenty of this code,
respectively. Each agency shall advise the board of any action
taken to protect the health and safety of humans and animals under
§19-9B-6. Costs of care for seized animal; placement.
(a) The owner of an animal seized because it poses a threat to
the health and safety of humans or other animals is liable for all
costs of treatment and care while the animal is under the control
of the board.
(b) The board shall determine the appropriate placement of the
seized animal based upon the threat posed by the animal.
(c) An animal seized by the board in accordance with the
provisions of this article may be returned to the possessor only if the animal is determined to pose no threat to humans, other animals
or plant life.
§19-9B-7. Registration; record keeping and notifications required.
All commercial enterprises who have valid licenses to do
business from the Secretary of State and who offer animals for sale
in this State shall:
(a) Register with the board on a form to be prescribed by the
(b) Keep all records required to be kept by the board.
(c) Notify the board of the sale of certain animals as
specified by the board.
During reasonable hours, and with a proper warrant the
employees of the Department of Agriculture, the Division of Natural
Resources or the Bureau for Public Health may enter any premises to
access a domestic or exotic animal for the purpose of inspection to
further the provisions of this article. No person shall obstruct
or hinder the employees in the discharge of their duties.
§19-9B-9. Penalties for violation of article.
(a) Any person, firm, association, corporation or business
violating any provision of this article, including legislatively
approved rules, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon
conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars
nor more than two hundred fifty dollars for the first offense, and not less than three hundred dollars nor more than one thousand
dollars for the second and subsequent offenses. Magistrates have
concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts to enforce the
provisions of this article.
(b) It shall be the duty of the prosecuting attorney of the
county in which the violation occurred to represent the department,
to institute proceedings, and to prosecute the person charged with
Note: The purpose of this bill is regulate the possession and
sale of certain animals in order to protect the health and safety
of humans and to protect the State's agricultural and forestry
industries, its wildlife and other natural resource interests from
the introduction or spread of disease. The bill creates the Exotic
Animal Control Board whose three members are the Commissioner of the
Department of Agriculture, the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public
Health and the Director of the Division of Natural Resources. A
technical advisory committee is also authorized to make
recommendations to and advise the Board on matters within its
jurisdiction. The Board is authorized to seize and quarantine
animals when there is probable cause to suspect the animal poses a
threat to the health and safety of humans, other animals or certain
Pet shops are required to register with the Board and persons
may not possess or breed exotic animals without first obtaining a
permit. Certain facilities and institutions are exempt from the
permitting process and the Board may grant further exemptions. The
bill sets forth care and treatment requirements to ensure the humane
treatment of animals. Finally, it creates criminal penalties for
This is a new article; therefore, underscoring and
strike-throughs have been omitted.