Senate Bill No. 437
(By Senators Unger, Beach and Yost)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported April 1, 2013.]
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; setting forth responsibilities of the commercial dog breeder; setting forth the requirements for maintaining adequate enclosures; providing for inspections; prohibiting a commercial dog breeder to operate if convicted of animal cruelty; providing no exemption for United States Department of Agriculture licensees; and providing criminal penalties or granting an improvement period.
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 follows:
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 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.