Senate Bill No. 437
(By Senators Unger, Beach and Yost)
[Introduced March 5, 2013; referred to the Committee on
Agriculture and Rural Development; and then to the Committee on
the Judiciary .]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new section, designated §19-20-26, relating
to protecting dogs by creating regulations for commercial dog-
breeding operations; providing definitions; providing
exceptions; allowing commercial breeders to sell dogs only as
household pets; requiring a business license if required by
the locality; authorizing county commissions to charge a fee
to a commercial dog breeder to obtain an annual permit to
operate; limiting the amount of the fee which may be charged;
providing for the responsibilities of the commercial dog
breeder; setting forth the requirements for maintaining
adequate housing facilities and primary enclosures; providing
for inspections by animal control officers or law-enforcement officers; prohibiting a commercial dog breeder to operate if
convicted of animal cruelty; providing for no exemption from
these provisions for a facility licensed by the United States
Department of Agriculture; and providing 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 section, designated §19-20-26, to read as
ARTICLE 20. DOGS AND CATS.
§19-20-26. Commercial dog breeding operations.
(a) As used in this section:
(1) "Advertisement" means any media used to promote the sale
of dogs including, but not limited to, the Internet, newspapers,
flyers, magazines, radio, television, bulletins and signs.
(2) "Commercial dog breeder" means any person who:
(A) Maintains eleven or more unsterilized dogs over the age of
(B) Is engaged in the business of breeding dogs exclusively as
household pets for direct or indirect sale or for exchange in
return for consideration; and
(C) Commercial dog breeder shall not include:
(i) Any person who keeps or breeds dogs for the purpose of
herding or guarding livestock or farm animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience
(ii) Any person who holds an occupational permit from, and has
registered a greyhound kennel name with, the West Virginia Racing
(3) "Class I Commercial Dog Breeder" means a commercial dog
breeder that possesses eleven to thirty unsterilized dogs over the
age of one year at any one time.
(4) "Class II Commercial Dog Breeder" means a commercial dog
breeder that possesses more than thirty unsterilized dogs over the
age of one year at any time.
(5) "Housing facility" means a structure in which dogs are
kept that provides them with shelter, protection from the elements
and protection from temperature extremes.
(6) "Primary enclosure" means a structure that restricts a
dog's ability to move in a limited amount of space, such as a room,
cage or compartment.
(b) No commercial dog breeder may possess, control or
otherwise own or maintain more than fifty unsterilized dogs over
the age of one year for the primary purpose of breeding and selling
the offspring exclusively as household pets. A commercial dog
breeder found to be in violation of this section shall spay or
neuter, sell, transfer or relinquish the excess dog(s) within thirty days following notification of the violation.
(c) No commercial dog breeder may breed dogs without a valid
business license issued by the locality in which the dog breeding
operation is located, if the locality so requires.
(d) A commercial dog breeder shall:
(1) Obtain a permit annually to operate, as required by the
county commission in which the commercial dog breeding operation is
located. County commissions are authorized to charge a fee to
commercial dog breeders and shall deposit the fees collected in a
specially designated account to be used for animal rescue purposes
and for spay/neuter programs administered by county animal shelters
or other humane organizations. The fee for a Class I commercial
dog breeding permit shall be an amount determined by the county
commission, not to exceed $250 per year. The fee for a Class II
commercial dog breeding permit shall be an amount determined by the
county commission, not to exceed $500 per year;
(2) Breed female dogs only after the breeder has obtained an
annual certification by a licensed veterinarian that the dog is in
suitable health for breeding;
(3) Dispose of dogs only by gift, sale, transfer, barter or
euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian;
(4) Maintain current, valid rabies certificates for every dog
over the age of four months;
(5) Include the breeder's annual permit number on any
advertisement for the sale of a dog;
(6) If selling directly to the public, post a conspicuous
notice containing the breeder's name, address and annual permit
number on each cage;
(7) Provide for the humane treatment of dogs in accordance
with section nineteen, article eight, chapter sixty-one of this
(8) Provide dogs with easy and convenient access to adequate
amounts of clean food and water. Food and water receptacles must
be regularly cleaned and sanitized. All enclosures must contain
potable water that is not frozen, is substantially free from debris
and is readily accessible to all dogs in the enclosure at all
(9) Provide veterinary care without delay when necessary; and
(10) Maintain adequate housing facilities and primary
enclosures that meet the following minimum requirements:
(A) Housing facilities and primary enclosures must be kept in
a sanitary condition and in good repair; must be sufficiently
ventilated at all times to minimize odors, drafts, ammonia levels
and to prevent moisture condensation; must have a means of fire
suppression, such as functioning fire extinguishers or a sprinkler
system on the premises; and must have sufficient lighting to allow for observation of the dogs at any time of day or night;
(B) Housing facilities must enable all dogs to remain dry and
(C) Housing facilities must provide shelter and protection
from extreme temperatures and weather conditions that may be
uncomfortable or hazardous to the dogs;
(D) Housing facilities must provide sufficient shade to
shelter all the dogs housed in the primary enclosure at one time;
(E) A primary enclosure must have solid floors that are
constructed in a manner that protects the dogs' feet and legs from
(F) Primary enclosures must be placed no higher than forty-two
inches above the floor and may not be placed over or stacked on top
of another cage or primary enclosure;
(G) Feces, hair, dirt, debris and food waste must be removed
from primary enclosures and housing facilities at least daily or
more often if necessary to prevent accumulation and to reduce
disease hazards, insects, pests and odors;
(H) All dogs in the same enclosure at the same time must be
compatible, as determined by observation. Breeding females in heat
may not be in the same enclosure at the same time with sexually
mature males, except for breeding purposes. Breeding females and
their litters may not be in the same enclosure at the same time with other adult dogs. Puppies under twelve weeks may not be in
the same enclosure at the same time with other adult dogs, other
than the dam or foster dam unless under immediate supervision; and
(I) Sick dogs shall be isolated sufficiently so as not to
endanger the health of other dogs.
(e) To ensure compliance with state animal care laws and
regulations, commercial dog breeding locations are subject to
inspection by animal control officers or law-enforcement officers
at least twice annually. Animal control or law-enforcement
officers shall give a commercial dog breeder five business days
notice of any upcoming inspection.
(f) It is unlawful for a commercial dog breeder to operate if
he or she has been convicted of animal cruelty in any local, state
or federal jurisdiction.
(g) Any commercial dog breeder who violates any provision of
this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000.
(h) Nothing in this section exempts a facility licensed by the
United States Department of Agriculture from compliance.
(i) Nothing in this section prevents any local, state or
federal law-enforcement agency from investigating animal cruelty in
commercial dog breeding operations.
The purpose of this bill is to protect dogs by creating
regulations for commercial dog breeding operations.
§19-20-26 is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring
have been omitted.