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WV Update: Amended Breeder Bill Advances to Senate Floor

(Tuesday, April 02, 2013)

Yesterday, the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of Senate Bill 437. This newly amended version of the bill addressed many of the issues with the bill; however, the AKC remains concerned about the definition of commercial breeder. This is now defined vaguely as one who owns 11 or more intact dogs “for the exclusive purpose of actively breeding.”

AKC encourages West Virginia residents to contact the members of the State Senate, thank them for amending the bill, and express concerns that you have with Senate Bill 437 as currently written. Enter your Zip Code at this link to find the names and contact information for your Senator. When contacting your Senator, be sure to mention that you are a constituent.

The West Virginia Legislature requires that bills be passed by the Senate no later than TOMORROW, April 3. Residents are encouraged to call their Senator today to comment on this legislation.

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.

Numerous amendments have been made to Senate Bill 437 to address the concerns of the AKC and responsible West Virginia breeders. These amendments include:

  • Removing the ownership limit – the 50-dog ownership limit is no longer in the bill
  • Allowing judges to provide breeders up to one year to correct deficiencies before being charged with a misdemeanor and forced to pay a large fine. Previously there was no opportunity for correction prior to the misdemeanor being charged.

The AKC remains concerned about the definition of “commercial breeder”, which is someone who maintains 11 or more intact dogs (males and females) over the age of one year “for the exclusive purpose of actively breeding.” This definition is vague and can be open to a variety of interpretations. The AKC also believes that the definition of a commercial operation should be based on the number of dogs sold in a year, rather than simply the number of intact dogs someone owns.

Exemptions remain in the bill for those who keep or breed dogs “for the purpose of herding or guarding livestock animals, hunting, tracking or exhibiting in dog shows, performance events or field and obedience trials...”

Senate Bill 437 includes other new requirements, such as obtaining an annual permit and business license if you meet the definition of commercial breeder. No primary enclosures or cages may be stacked, and they must have solid flooring. Commercial breeders will be subject to inspections twice each year.

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.