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WV Seeking to Enact Breeding Restrictions, Ownership Limits

(Thursday, February 09, 2012)

The West Virginia Senate President has introduced a bill that would impose numerous restrictions and unannounced inspections twice a year on those who “maintain” eleven or more intact dogs over the age of one year and sell 15 dogs in a year.

Senate Bill 406 is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to move very quickly. It is imperative that responsible West Virginia dog owners and breeders, as well as those who participate in dog events in the state, contact both the committee and your State Senators to ask them to oppose Senate Bill 406 as introduced. Scroll down for contact information.

Summary:

Senate Bill 406 seeks to impose numerous restrictions on “commercial dog breeders”, defined as those who “maintain” eleven or more unsterilized dogs (males and females) over one year of age and sell over 15 dogs in a year. AKC takes a strong line on animal cruelty, and does not believe any dog should be kept in conditions where its basic needs are not met. This is why AKC supports current West Virginia law (§61-8-19), which, among other provisions, makes it unlawful for anyone to withhold proper sustenance, protective shelter and medical treatment.

As currently written, however, SB 406 would create numerous burdens on dog owners and taxpayers without protecting the health and welfare of dogs. AKC’s concerns include:

  • Definition of “Commercial Dog Breeder” – As currently written, the low threshold of owning 11 intact dogs and selling 15 dogs in year could impact hobbyists, sportsmen, and others who breed, raise and own dogs in their homes. It is unreasonable to expect such individuals to comply with the same requirements as large commercial kennels. In many breeds, 15 puppies constitutes only 2 litters.
  • Ownership Limit – SB 406 limits ownership to 50 intact dogs. Laws that limit animal ownership are ineffective, arbitrary, and do not address the underlying issue of responsible ownership. Limiting the number of animals a person may own will not automatically make them a better owner. Furthermore, both the dogs and West Virginia taxpayers lose, as owners may be forced to give up their dogs to a local shelter in order to comply with the limit (particularly since those over the limit would only be given 30 days to come into compliance), and the dogs will be housed and/or euthanized at great cost to local communities.
  • Arbitrary Breeding Ages – SB 406 would only allow females between the ages of 18 months and eight years to be bred. Arbitrary limitations on breeding ages do not adequately address the needs of individual dogs. Breeding is a health care decision that should be made by the dog’s owner in conjunction with a veterinarian. AKC has asked the committee to remove the breeding ages, and instead to require the breeder to have the female be examined by a veterinarian prior to breeding.
  • Bi-annual Inspections – Unlike other breeder regulation bills introduced in West Virginia, SB 406 requires twice yearly inspections that are unannounced. AKC believes this is a violation of the rights of responsible owners as well as a major, unnecessary burden for West Virginia taxpayers.

Talking Points:

Click here for a sample letter to personalize
Read AKC’s Issue Analysis "The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders"
Read AKC’s Issue Brief on Responsible Breeding Practices
Read AKC’s Issue Brief on Dog Limit Laws
View AKC’s handout “Limit Laws: Better Alternatives”

How You Can Help:

Contact BOTH the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and your State Senators and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 406 as introduced. Enter your Zip Code at this link to find the name of your Senators. When contacting your Senators, be sure to mention that you are a constituent.

The contact information for the Senate Judiciary Committee is as follows:

Senator Corey Palumbo (Chair)
Phone: (304) 357-7880
E-mail: corey.palumbo@wvsenate.gov

Senator Mark Wills (Vice-Chair)
Phone: (304) 357-7843
E-mail: mark.wills@wvsenate.gov

Senator Robert D. Beach
Phone: (304) 357-7919
E-mail: bob.beach@wvsenate.gov

Senator D. Richard Browning
Phone: (304) 357-7807
E-mail: richard.browning@wvsenate.gov

Senator John Pat Fanning
Phone: (304) 357-7867
E-mail: john.fanning@wvsenate.gov

Senator Dan Foster
Phone: (304) 357-7866
E-mail: daniel.foster@camc.org

Senator Evan H. Jenkins
Phone: (304) 357-7956
E-mail: evan.jenkins@wvsenate.gov

Senator Art Kirkendoll
Phone: (304) 357-7857
E-mail: art.kirkendoll@wvsenate.gov

Senator Orphy Klempa
Phone: (304) 357-7918
E-mail: orphy.klempa@wvsenate.gov

Senator Joseph M. Minard
Phone: (304) 357-7904
E-mail: joe.minard@wvsenate.gov

Senator Herb Snyder
Phone: (304) 357-7957
E-mail: herb.snyder@wvsenate.gov

Senator Gregory A. Tucker
Phone: (304) 357-7906
E-mail: greg.tucker@wvsenate.gov

Senator John R. Unger II
Phone: (304) 357-7933
E-mail: john.unger@wvsenate.gov

Senator Bob Williams
Phone: (304) 357-7995
E-mail: bob.williams@wvsenate.gov

Senator Clark S. Barnes
Phone: (304) 357-7973
E-mail: clark.barnes@wvsenate.gov

Senator Karen L. Facemyer
Phone: (304) 357-7855
E-mail: karen.facemyer@wvsenate.gov

Senator David C. Nohe
Phone: (304) 357-7970
E-mail: dcnohe@suddenlink.net

For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.