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Introduced Version Senate Bill 137 History

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sb137 intr
Senate Bill No. 137

(By Senators Edgell, Unger and Barnes)

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[Introduced February 9, 2005; referred to the Committee

on Agriculture; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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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 possession and sale of domestic and exotic animals; creating Animal Health Safety Control Board and Technical Advisory Committee; duties; rulemaking; jurisdiction of member agencies; bonding requirements; requiring pet shop registration; requiring recordkeeping; requiring possession permit to keep certain animals; permitting requirements; exemptions; establishing care and treatment requirements; requiring insurance; authorizing inspections; seizing and quarantining animals; and establishing penalties and fees.

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 HEALTH SAFETY CONTROL ACT.
§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 prevent the escape or release of an animal injurious to or competitive with the state's agricultural and forestry industries, wildlife and other natural resource interests; to prevent the mistreatment of animals; and to ensure the physical safety of humans by regulating the possession and sale of domestic and exotic animals.
(b) This article may be cited as the "West Virginia Animal Health Safety 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 animal health safety 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) "Pet shop" means a facility where an animal is kept for the purpose of sale or breeding.
(7) "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.
(8) "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.
(9) "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.
(10) "Wildlife"
means wildlife and game fish, as those terms are defined in section two, article one, chapter twenty of this code, and fish and all animals commonly accepted and documented to live in the wild as part of the present or historic natural fauna of West Virginia.
§19-9B-3. Board created; composition; duties.

(a)The animal health safety 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 has the authority to:
(1)Establish requirements for the operation of pet shops including standards of care for the animals offered for sale or breeding;
(2)Establish permit requirements for the possession of exotic animals and grant, deny, suspend, revoke and reinstate permits;
(3) Establish standards for the care and treatment of exotic animals;
(4) Prohibit the importation of any domestic or 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 and 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) Propose rules in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code;
(9) Seize, quarantine or destroy an animal which poses a threat to the health and safety of humans or other animals or plant life;
(10) Grant exemptions from the requirements of this article; and
(11)Take all other actions necessary and proper to effectuate the purposes of this article.
(d) The members of the board may delegate the duties set forth in this article to other members of their staff.
§19-9B-4. Technical committee created; composition; duties.
(a) The technical committee to the board is hereby created.

(b) The technical committee 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 technical committee may make recommendations to and advise the board on matters within its jurisdiction.
§19-9B-5. Establishment of special revenue fund; authorized expenditures.

There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special revenue fund to be known as the "animal health safety 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 article, including, but not limited to:
(1) The operation of pet shops;
(2) The standards of care for domestic and exotic animals offered for sale;
(3) The importation and transportation of domestic and exotic animals;
(4) The possession of exotic animals;
(5) The permitting process;
(6) The amount of any fee authorized by the provisions of this article;
(7) The keeping, maintenance and inspection of records;
(8) The seizure, quarantine or destruction of an animal;
(9) The minimum caging requirements for each animal species or family including all requirements necessary for the safe and humane caging of an exotic animal and safety of humans and other animals; and
(10) The procedures for the imposition and collection of bonds, civil penalties and assessed costs.
(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. Jurisdiction of member agencies.
(a)The Department of Agriculture is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this act.
(b)The Bureau for Public Health may examine and test a domestic or exotic animal at any time when there is probable 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 cause to believe that the animal may pose a threat to wildlife.
(d)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 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 from any harm posed by an animal.

(e) Each member agency may immediately seize, quarantine or destroy an animal which poses a threat to humans, other animals, wildlife or the state's agricultural or forestry industries or other natural resource interests. The agency must advise the board of its action.
§19-9B-8. Costs of care for seized animal; bond; 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 owner of the seized animal shall post a bond, within five days of the date of the seizure, with the board in an amount determined by the board which is sufficient to provide for the reasonable costs of treatment and care of the animal during the period of confinement. The board may prescribe the form of the bond by rule.
(c) The board shall determine the appropriate placement of the seized animal based upon the threat posed by the animal.
§19-9B-9. Pet shop registration required.
Effective the first day of January, two thousand six, no person may operate a pet shop in this state unless he or she has registered with the board.
§19-9B-10. Registration; renewal; fee.
(a) A pet shop operator shall register on forms supplied by the board and provide all information required by the board by rule.
(b) Registrations expire on the thirtieth day of June of each year and must be renewed annually. Renewal forms will be mailed to current registrants. The failure to receive the renewal form does not relieve a registrant of the obligation to renew. The board may require a late fee when a renewal is received more than sixty days after the expiration of the current registration.
(c) A pet shop operator shall pay the applicable registration or renewal fee.
§19-9B-11. Record keeping; notifications required.
(a) Pet shops shall keep all records required to be kept by the board.
(b) Pet shops shall notify the board of the sale of an animal as required by the board.
(c) Pet shops shall notify all customers purchasing an animal of the permitting requirements of this act.
§19-9B-12. Possession, breeding of exotic animals prohibited.
It is unlawful for any person to possess or breed an exotic animal, except in compliance with this act.
§19-9B-13. Possession permit.

(a) No person may own or possess an exotic animal unless the person applies for and is granted a possession permit.
(1) A person who possesses an exotic animal on the effective date of this act must apply for a possession permit within ninety days of the effective date of this act.
(2) A person buying an exotic animal must apply for a possession permit within ten days of the date of purchase.
(b) A possession permit must be renewed annually.
(c) An applicant shall file an application to receive a possession permit with the board on forms supplied by the board. The application shall include, but is not limited to:
(1) The name, address and telephone number of the applicant;
(2) A description of each exotic animal, including the scientific name, sex, age, color, weight and any distinguishing marks or coloration that would aid in the identification of the animal;
(3) A photograph of the 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 obtained the exotic animal;
(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 the board may require.
(d) The application for a possession permit shall be accompanied by the applicable permit fee.
(e) A permit may not be granted unless the board finds the following:
(1) The requirements set forth in subsection (a) of this section are met;
(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 animal or any state or federal law relating to the possession of wildlife or endangered species;
(3) The facility and the conditions in which the exotic animal will be kept are in compliance with this act; and
(4) The applicant has obtained liability insurance for the possession of an exotic animal as required by section eighteen of this article.
(f) A permit holder shall notify the board of any changes in the information on the permit, including the death of the exotic animal and any additions through births or acquisitions throughout the permit period.
(g) Possession permits expire on the thirtieth day of June of each year and must be renewed annually. Renewal forms will be mailed 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 require a late fee when a renewal is received more than sixty days after the expiration of the current permit.
(h) The board shall keep records of the permits issued.
§19-9B-14. Exemptions.
(a) The possession permit provisions of this act do not apply to:
(1) Institutions accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA);
(2) A facility subject to the provisions of article twenty or twenty-three of this chapter;
(3) A licensed or accredited research or medical institution;
(4) A veterinary hospital or clinic; and
(5) A licensed or accredited educational institution.
(b) These facilities are subject to all other provisions of this act 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 in accordance with a method prescribed by the board.
§19-9B-16. Caging requirements.
(a) The board shall establish specific caging requirements for the keeping and confinement of exotic animals. Persons 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 may not be tethered, leashed or chained outdoors or allowed to run at-large.
(b) No exotic animal may be released into the wild.
(c) No exotic animal may 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 must 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 notification of law-enforcement 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 animal if deemed 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 must contact an approved animal rescue facility or an American Zoo and Aquarium Association accredited facility for possible placement of the animal. The proper permits must be obtained 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 possessor's expense.
§19-9B-18. Insurance; signs; notification.
(a) A possessor of an exotic animal shall maintain liability insurance in an amount of not less than one hundred thousand dollars for each occurrence and shall provide a copy of the policy annually to 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 content and size of the sign shall be prescribed by the board.
(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 of the city or county wherein the possessor resides 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.
§19-9B-20. Inspection.
During reasonable hours, the employees of the Department of Agriculture, the Division of Natural Resources or the Bureau for Public Health may enter any premises to access domestic or exotic animals for the purpose of inspection. No person may obstruct or hinder the employees in the discharge of their duties to enforce this act.
§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 therefor.
(b) If the board finds that a person has not complied with this act 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 therefor.
(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 or an animal possessed by a pet shop may be immediately seized by the board if:
(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 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 or an animal possessed by a pet shop which was seized by the board may be returned to the possessor only if the possessor has a possession permit, is in compliance with the act and the animal poses no threat to humans or other animals.
(c) If an exotic animal or an animal possessed by a pet shop 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 board.
(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 parasites.
(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 is no cost as a condition precedent to recording.
(5) All penalties and assessed costs collected pursuant to this act shall be deposited in the exotic animal fees fund.
(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 animal at issue. The board shall pay damages as determined by a state court provided funds are available.


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.

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