Senate Bill No. 540
(By Senator Unger)
[Introduced February 17, 2011; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §19-33-1, §19-33-2, §19-33-3, §19-33-4, §19-33-5 and §19-33-6, all relating to the Equine Early Intervention and Protection Act; definitions; licensing of equine facilities; inspections; legislative rules; and 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 §19-33-1, §19-33-2, §19-33-3, §19-33-4, §19-33-5 and §19-33-6, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 33. EQUINE EARLY INTERVENTION AND PROTECTION ACT.
§19-33-1. Legislative purpose.
Recently there have been a number of well publicized cases of equine abuse where significant numbers of horses have died of starvation or were severely malnourished. There is a need for licensing and inspection of equine facilities to ensure the safety and welfare of equines, and to enable county humane officers or animal control officers to identify equine abuse at an early stage where those animals can be saved and spared needless suffering.
For purposes of this article:
(1) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(2) “Equine boarding facility” means a facility that charges a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, or annual fee for boarding equines.
(3) “Equine breeding facility” means a farm or equine facility that produces three or more (equine) foals annually.
(4) “Equine rescue facility” means a facility that is listed as a nonprofit organization having a legitimate and current status under 501(3)(C) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, that fosters care to unwanted equines due to age, health, or other circumstances that deem the equine homeless.
(5) “Equine riding academy facility” means a facility that uses equines as mounts for humans and teaches humans proper riding technique.
(6) “Equine therapy facility” means a facility where riding, grooming and visiting equines are used for physical and mental therapy for humans.
(7) “Equine training facility” means a farm, stable or area designated as a place where equines are trained to perform certain functions.
§19-33-3. Licensing of equine facilities.
No person may operate an equine facility as defined in section two of this article without an Equine Facility License issued by the Department of Agriculture. The annual fee for an Equine Facility License is $100, which shall be remitted by the commissioner to the humane officer or animal control officer in the county where the facility is located to offset the expense of inspecting that facility. If the county does not have a humane officer or animal control officer, the commissioner shall remit the license fee to the sheriff of the county where the facility is located.
§19-33-4. Inspections of equine facilities.
Upon application for an Equine Facility License, the commissioner shall notify the county humane officer or animal control officer in the county where the equine facility is located, who shall inspect the facility prior to issuance of an Equine Facility License, and thereafter, not less than twice annually. If the county does not have a humane officer or animal control officer, the sheriff of that county is responsible for inspections of equine facilities in the county.
§19-33-5. Legislative Rules.
The commissioner shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to provide for the following:
(1) The issuance of Equine Facility Licences and revocation of such licenses for violations of the provisions of this article or rules adopted hereunder;
(2) Notification of the application and issuance of an Equine Facility License to the humane officer, animal control officer or county sheriff in the county where the facility is located and remittance of the annual Equine Facility License fee;
(3) Standards for maintenance of the premises, the care and health of the horses kept at equine facilities, and standards for inspection of those facilities and horses, using current guidelines issued by the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute for equine facilities as a basis for those standards; and
(4) Standards for closure of an equine facility and seizure of horses at the facility where the health and welfare of the horses are endangered.
Any person violating a provision of this article or rules adopted hereunder is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 for the first offense, and for the second or subsequent offense shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,500.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the Equine Early Intervention and Protection Act.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.