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WV Committee to Consider Problematic Breeder Bill TOMORROW (3/13)

(Tuesday, March 12, 2013)

AKC Government Relations has just learned that the West Virginia House Agriculture Committee will consider House Bill 2838 tomorrow (Wednesday, March 13).

This bill, which is identical to Senate Bill 437 introduced last week, would create numerous new requirements for those who own 11 intact dogs over 1 year of age.

Among other provisions, the bill would require those who currently have more than 50 dogs to come under a new 50-dog limit within 30 days – a provision that could be an enormous burden on West Virginia shelters. AKC appreciates that some exemptions have been included; however, we believe they are vague and may still impact hobbyists who are not truly commercial breeders.

West Virginia has a short legislative session, and AKC GR expects this bill to move quickly, as it has in past years. We strongly encourage West Virginia residents to contact the members of the House Agriculture Committee, as well as your State Delegate TODAY and ask them to not support House 2838 or Senate Bill 437 as currently written.

Scroll down for talking points and contact information.

Summary:

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.

House Bill 2838, however, would create numerous requirements that could be detrimental to responsible dog owners, as well as dogs raised in West Virginia.

AKC’s specific concerns include:

  • Ownership Limit – The bill 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.

    Those who own over 50 dogs will have 30 days to relinquish or sell dogs in order to come into compliance. This could be an enormous strain on West Virginia shelters and is not a reasonable requirement if the dogs are being kept in safe, healthy conditions.
  • Definition of “Commercial Dog Breeder” – This bill defines a “commercial breeder” as one who owns 11 intact dogs over the age of one year and breeds dogs exclusively as household pets. It also exempts anyone who keeps or breeds dogs “for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials…”

    The AKC believes that the exemptions are vague. It is not always possible to tell immediately if dogs from a litter will develop into proper show dogs, sporting dogs, etc. Many breeders will wait to watch the puppies grow before they determine if the dogs will be used for these purposes.
It is also unclear if a breeder would be required to somehow “prove” they are keeping dogs for this purpose, or if breeders would be exempt if they intend to keep or breed dogs for one of these purposes, but may ultimately decide to sell or keep puppies as pets.

The bill includes numerous other new requirements, including licensing and twice yearly inspections for all who meet the definition of “commercial breeder”. No primary enclosures or cages may be stacked, and they must have solid flooring. Breeders are encouraged to read the bill and communicate to legislators about how it will impact your ability to properly breed and raise dogs.

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:
  • Attend the March 13 House Agriculture Committee hearing and respectfully ask the members to oppose House Bill 2838:

    West Virginia House Agriculture Committee
    Wednesday, March 13, 2013
    8:15 a.m.
    State Capitol, House Government Organization Committee Room
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Contact your State Delegate and respectfully ask them to oppose House Bill 2838. Type your zip code at this link to get the name and contact information for your State Representative.
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will continue to closely monitor this legislation and provide more information as it becomes available. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.