Senate Bill 137 History
Senate Bill No. 137
(By Senators Edgell, Unger and Barnes)
[Introduced February 9, 2005; referred to the Committee
on Agriculture; and then to the Committee on 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,
§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."
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
(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.
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
(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
(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
(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;
(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
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
(4) The possession of exotic animals;
(5) The permitting process;
(6) The amount of any fee authorized by the provisions of this
(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;
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(h) The board shall keep records of the permits issued.
(a) The possession permit provisions of this act do not apply
(1) Institutions accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium
(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
§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.
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
§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
(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
(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 is no cost as a condition precedent
(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
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.