At the same time as the head tax is assessed, the assessor and his or her deputies shall, on the forms prescribed under section four of this article, take down the age, sex, color, character of hair (long or short) and breed (if known) and the name and address of the owner, keeper or harborer thereof. When the head tax, and extra charges, if any, are paid, the officer to whom payment is made shall issue a certificate of registration and a registration tag for such dog.
In addition to the assessment and registration above provided for, whenever a dog either is acquired or becomes six months of age after the assessment of the personal property of the owner, keeper or harborer thereof, the said owner, keeper or harborer of said dog shall, within ten days after the acquisition or maturation, register the said dog with the assessor, and pay the head tax thereon unless the prior owner, keeper or harborer paid the head tax.
All certificates of registration and registration tags issued pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be issued for the fiscal year and shall be valid from the date on which issued until the thirtieth day of June of that fiscal year, or until reissued by the assessor or his or her deputy in the regular performance of his or her duties, but in no case shall previous registration tags be valid after September thirtieth of the next ensuing fiscal year.
The assessor collecting the head tax on dogs shall be allowed a commission of ten percent upon all such taxes collected by him or her, and shall turn in to the county treasury ninety percent of such taxes so collected, as are levied by this section; and the assessor shall turn over to the treasurer or other proper officer of each and every municipality within the county ninety percent of such taxes levied by the ordinances of such municipality. All such dog taxes, except those belonging to municipalities, shall be accredited to the dog and kennel fund provided for in section ten of this article. Such dog taxes as are collected for and turned over to municipalities shall be deposited by the proper officer of such municipalities to such fund and shall be expended in such manner as the law of such municipality may provide. All taxes on dogs not collected by the assessor shall be collected by the regular tax collecting officer of the county and placed to the credit of the dog and kennel fund.
Every person upon becoming the owner or operator of a kennel of dogs as herein described after the thirtieth day of September of any year shall, within three days after becoming such owner or operator, register such kennel for the remainder of the current fiscal year in the manner, and upon the payment of the registration fee, herein provided.
All certificates of registration issued pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be issued for the fiscal year, and shall be valid from the date on which issued until the thirtieth day of June of that fiscal year.
A public record of all certificates of registration and registration tags issued under the provisions of this article shall be kept by the assessor of each county. Such record shall be kept intact and available for inspection for a period of not less than two years following the end of the registration year.
Registration tags shall be made of metal or some other suitable substance of a permanent nature. The design of such tags shall be changed from year to year so that identification of the year of issue of any tag may be made without close visual examination. If any registration tag be lost, a duplicate shall be furnished by such assessor upon proper proof of loss and the payment to him of a fee of twenty-five cents.
The county dog warden and his deputies shall patrol the county in which they are appointed and shall seize on sight and impound any dog more than six months of age found not wearing a valid registration tag, except dogs kept constantly confined in a registered dog kennel. They shall be responsible for the proper care and final disposition of all impounded dogs. The county dog warden shall make a monthly report, in writing, to the county commission of his county. When any dog shall have been seized and impounded, the county dog warden shall forthwith give notice to the owner of such dog, if such owner be known to the warden, that such dog has been impounded and that it will be sold or destroyed if not redeemed within five days. If the owner of such dog be not known to the dog warden, he shall post a notice in the county courthouse. The notice shall describe the dog and the place where seized and shall advise the unknown owner that such dog will be sold or destroyed if not redeemed within five days.
(b) Any county commission may promulgate and enforce such ordinances, rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this article, as it considers necessary or convenient for the control and management of all dogs in the county, or any portion thereof, regardless of the age of any such dog: Provided, That the county commissions may promulgate and enforce such ordinances, rules and regulations to the extent necessary for the implementation of the provisions contained in this article.
(c) The county commission of each county may provide in such ordinance for the arrest, conviction and punishment of any person who violates the provisions thereof. The county commission of each county may provide in any such ordinance that any person who violates the provisions of the ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, that such person is subject to a fine or fines. The amount of such fine for a single violation of any such ordinance may not exceed one hundred dollars. Magistrate courts and circuit courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction with respect to such misdemeanors.
In addition to the powers granted to county commissions by section six of this article, the county commission of each county may contract with or reimburse any private incorporated society or association, county commission or municipality for the care, maintenance, control or destruction of dogs and cats.
The county court of each county, if the court appoints a county dog warden, shall provide the dog warden with nets and other suitable devices for taking dogs in a humane manner, and with facilities for transporting any dog seized to the dog pound, a suitable place for impounding dogs with proper provisions for their feeding and care, and humane equipment, devices and methods for destroying dogs: Provided, That in any county in which there is a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or a humane society, incorporated and organized under the laws of this state, and having one or more duly appointed agents, and maintaining an animal home or shelter suitable for impounding dogs and possessing devices for humanely destroying dogs, the county court shall not be required to provide a dog pound, but it may designate such animal home or shelter as the county dog pound, and the county dog warden shall in such case deliver all dogs seized by him and his deputies to such animal home or shelter for impounding and disposition in the manner provided by this article. The county court shall provide for the payment of reasonable compensation, not to exceed the fees and costs provided for in this article, to such society for the use of its facilities and services in impounding and disposing of dogs. Such compensation to such society shall be paid from the fund provided for in this article.
(b) (1) The term "humanely destroyed" as used in this section means:
(A) Humane euthanasia of an animal by hypodermic injection by a licensed veterinarian or by an animal euthanasia technician certified in accordance with the provisions of article ten-a, chapter thirty of this code; or
(B) Any other humane euthanasia procedure approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States or the American Humane Association.
(2) The term "humanely destroyed" does not include euthanizing a dog or cat by means of a gas chamber: Provided, That any county which has a gas chamber in operation as of the effective date of this section may continue to operate the gas chamber subject to the following: (1) The gas chamber shall be operated by an animal euthanasia technician certified pursuant to article ten-a, chapter thirty of this code; and (2) the gas chamber shall have been manufactured and installed by a person who regularly manufactures and installs gas chambers. The Board of Veterinary Medicine shall promulgate emergency rules regarding the inspection of gas chambers, pursuant to section fifteen, article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(c) In an emergency or in a situation in which a dog cannot be humanely destroyed in an expeditious manner, a dog may be destroyed by shooting if:
(1) The shooting is performed by someone trained in the use of firearms with a weapon and ammunition of suitable caliber and other characteristics designed to produce instantaneous death by a single shot; and
(2) Maximum precaution is taken to minimize the dog's suffering and to protect other persons and animals.
(d) The owner, keeper or harborer of any dog seized and impounded under the provisions of this article may, at any time prior to the expiration of five days from the time that notice of the seizure and impounding of the dog has been given or posted as required by this article, redeem the dog by paying to the dog warden or his or her authorized agent or deputy all of the costs assessed against the dog and by providing a valid certificate of registration and registration tag for the dog.
(e) Reasonable costs and fees, in an amount to be determined, from time to time, by the county commission, shall be assessed against every dog seized and impounded under the provisions of this article, except dogs taken into custody under section two of this article. The cost shall be a valid claim in favor of the county against the owner, keeper or harborer of any dog seized and impounded under the provisions of this article and not redeemed or sold as provided in this section and the costs shall be recovered by the sheriff in a civil action against the owner, keeper or harborer.
(f) A record of all dogs impounded, the disposition of the dogs and a statement of costs assessed against each dog shall be kept by the dog warden and a transcript thereof shall be furnished to the sheriff quarterly.
(g) All persons or entities in the state performing euthanasia under this article shall register with the Board of Veterinary Medicine by December 31, 2009, in a manner to be prescribed by the board. The Board of Veterinary Medicine shall promulgate emergency rules relating to the registration of those performing animal euthanasia, pursuant to section fifteen, article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
The county court of any county may contract with any municipality within the county for the joint ownership, leasing, operation and maintenance within the county of a dog pound and may jointly employ a dog warden or dog wardens.
Any person who shall alter, or forge any certificate or tag, provided for in this article, or display, present, or utter such certificate as valid with knowledge that it has been altered or forged, or who knowingly causes or permits any dog owned, kept or harbored by him to wear any fictitious, altered, or invalid registration tag in place of a valid tag as required under the provisions of this article, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than thirty days or by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(b) If any unvaccinated domesticated animal is bitten by a rabid animal, the owner shall confine the bitten animal for a period of six months. The animal shall be vaccinated or revaccinated after five months.
(c) If the animal is not confined and quarantined as directed in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the humane officer, dog warden or sheriff may cause the animal to be placed in the custody and care of a licensed veterinarian for that purpose at the owner's expense. The penalty for any violation of this section is a fine of fifty dollars or confinement in the county or regional jail for a period of no less than two nor more than three days.
The county commission shall expend such fund, and issue drafts payable therefrom, for the following purposes, and no others: To pay the actual expenses incurred by the county commission, the county assessor, and the sheriff in carrying out the provisions of this article; to pay for the services of the dog warden, his deputies, poundkeepers, and such other persons as may be employed, if any, or may render services, in actually carrying out the provisions of this article; to pay in its discretion to the dog warden and his deputies mileage at the rate up to fifteen cents per mile for the use of their privately owned vehicles actually used in carrying out the provisions of this article; to pay for the purchase, procurement, rental, construction, operation, maintenance and repair of any property, devices or facilities reasonably necessary and required to carry out the provisions of this article; to compensate any department of the state government or any local board of health for any necessary service rendered in connection with this article; to pay the costs of any rabies control project or program authorized by law; to compensate any persons who have suffered loss or damage on account of the destruction, loss, or injury by dogs of any sheep, lamb, goat, kid or poultry, when such claims have been proved and allowed as provided in this article: Provided, however, That such compensation authorized by the county commission shall not exceed an amount double the assessed value of the destroyed or injured animals or poultry as shown on the assessor's records, and in the event such animals are not assessed, then compensation authorized by said court shall not exceed the average assessed value of like animals or poultry, or if no like animal or poultry is assessed, then not to exceed the fair market value as determined by the county commission.
In the event that the dog and kennel fund shall in any year be insufficient to pay the several items set forth in this section, then the county commission may be, and it is hereby, authorized and empowered to pay such items out of the county general fund. Any surplus of the dog and kennel fund remaining unexpended in the county treasury, and, in the opinion of the county commission, not needed for the payment and satisfaction of claims and expenses as herein provided, shall annually be paid into and credited to the county school fund, but the funds thus used shall be in an amount deemed proper and safe in the judgment and discretion of the county commission.
(b) Any person who shall intentionally and unlawfully steal a dog, cat, other animal or reptile as specified in subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be ordered to provide public service for not less than thirty nor more than ninety days or fined not less than three hundred nor more than five hundred dollars, or both. Any person violating the provisions of this subsection, for second or subsequent offense, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in jail for a period of not less than ninety days nor more than six months, or shall be ordered to provide public service for not more than one year, and fined not less than one thousand dollars. In no case can any action or prosecution relating to a dog under the provisions of this section be maintained if the dog concerned has not been duly registered pursuant to the provisions of this article or owned and kept pursuant to the provisions of this section or owned and kept pursuant to the provisions of this section at the time the cause of action shall have arisen.
(c) No person other than the owner of a registered dog may remove a tag, collar or other identifying apparel from the registered dog, nor remove or turn off a radio transmitting collar on the registered dog, without the permission of the owner, unless removal of the tag, collar or apparel is necessary to prevent or treat an injury to the dog or is done by a law-enforcement officer for a legitimate law-enforcement purpose. Any person who intentionally removes a tag, collar or other apparel from a registered dog in violation of the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be ordered to provide community service for not less than eight hours nor more than forty hours or fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred fifty dollars, or both.
(d) The Commissioner of Agriculture is hereby authorized to designate a reasonable number of his or her present employees as may be necessary to investigate alleged incidents of the unlawful stealing of dogs, other domestic animals or reptiles, alleged incidents of cruelty to animals or reptiles and the alleged incidents of the unlawful stealing of animals or reptiles for the purpose of sale to medical or other research companies. The deputies shall make the results of their investigations known to any law-enforcement officers who have authority to enforce the provisions of this article.
(e) It shall be the duty of all members of the West Virginia State Police, sheriffs and police officers to aid in the enforcement of the provisions of this article and, for services rendered in the enforcement thereof, those persons shall be entitled to fees in the amounts set forth in section eight of this article. The fees shall be paid by the county commission from the dog and kennel fund.
The county commission may, at its discretion, empower county dog wardens and deputy dog wardens to issue citations for violation of provisions of this article.
On and after the first day of September, one thousand nine hundred eighty-nine, any dog or cat impounded under the provisions of this article may not be sold, given, transferred or otherwise made available directly or indirectly to any person, institution, corporation or other entity for use in educational or scientific research or related activities. Disposition of impounded dogs or cats may only be by adoption as pets or humanely destroyed. Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than four hundred fifty dollars nor more than two thousand dollars.
Any person who, without justification, willfully and unlawfully causes physical injury to any trained dog or horse used by law-enforcement officials, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety or by fire prevention or investigation officials in the performance of their official duties is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $500 or confined in jail not more than six months, or both.
Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be ordered to make restitution to the law-enforcement agency, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety or to the State Fire Marshal or other fire prevention or investigation department or agency owning the animal for any veterinary bills, and replacement costs of any disabled or killed animal.
(1) Transfer ownership of the dog or horse to another governmental agency within West Virginia;
(2) Transfer ownership of the dog or horse to the animal's handler;
(3) Transfer ownership of the dog or horse to a person who wishes to maintain the animal; or
(4) Transfer the dog or horse to the care and custody of any animal shelter, humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, organized and operating under the laws of this state, so that the dog or horse may be adopted. If the animal shelter, humane society or society for the prevention of cruelty to animals determines that the dog or horse is not suitable for adoption, then the animal may be humanely euthanized by a person licensed under the provisions of article ten or ten-a, chapter thirty of this code.
(b) In the event ownership of a dog or horse is transferred pursuant to subdivision (2), (3) or (4), subsection (a) of this section, the transfer documents must include provisions, signed by the person accepting ownership of the dog or horse, which hold the state harmless from any liability after the date of transfer.
(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 one year for the exclusive purpose of actively breeding;
(B) Is engaged in the business of breeding dogs 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 exclusively for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock or farm animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials; and
(ii) With respect to greyhound dogs only, any person who holds an occupational permit from, and has registered a greyhound kennel name with, the West Virginia Racing Commission.
(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 for the exclusive purpose of actively breeding.
(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 breed dogs without a business registration certificate in accordance with section three, article twelve, chapter eleven of this code and a valid business license issued by the locality in which the dog breeding operation is located, if the locality so requires.
(c) 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 shelters, animal rescue and 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 pursuant to article twenty-a of this chapter;
(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 code;
(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 times unless otherwise directed by a veterinarian for the health of the dog;
(9) Provide veterinary care without delay when necessary;
(10) Maintain adequate staffing levels to ensure compliance with this section; and
(11) 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 and primary enclosures must enable all dogs to remain dry and clean;
(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 simultaneously shelter all of the dogs housed therein;
(E) A primary enclosure must have solid floors that are constructed in a manner that protects the dogs' feet and legs from injury;
(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.
(d) To ensure compliance with state animal care laws and regulations, commercial dog breeding locations are subject to biannual inspections by animal control officers or law-enforcement officers.
(e) 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.
(f) 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 per violation. In any proceeding brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, a circuit judge or magistrate may grant a person accused of violating this section an improvement period not to exceed one year upon such terms and conditions as the judge or magistrate may determine. Upon successful completion of the improvement period the judge or magistrate shall dismiss the charges.
(g) Nothing in this section exempts a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture from compliance.
(h) Nothing in this section prevents any local, state or
federal law-enforcement agency from investigating animal cruelty in
commercial dog breeding operations.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.