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Introduced Version House Bill 2620 History

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hb2620 intr
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 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 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".
§19-9B-2. Definitions.
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 Control Board.
(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 article.
(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 exotic animals;
(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 their jurisdiction.
§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 board;
(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.

§19-9B-8. Inspection.
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 a violation.

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 industries.
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 violators.

This is a new article; therefore, underscoring and strike-throughs have been omitted.
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