New Animal Shelter Bill Introduced In West Virginia Legislature

Charleston,WV – Delegate Greg Butcher, of Logan County, introduced House Bill 4246 to the West Virginia Legislature on January 20. The bill, also known as the West Virginia Companion Animal Protection Act, would update a law from 1931 and regulate the operation of private and public animal shelters. The bill currently is awaiting action by the House Agriculture Committee.

The proposed law would establish a minimum holding period of five days for all impounded animals, before the animals could be killed. If enacted, the law would proscribe procedures that shelters must adhere to before euthanizing an animal and establish legal methods for euthanasia. It would also establish certain standards for animal shelter operation.

The law would make it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal that a qualified rescue group is willing to save. The shelter would be required to notify a list of rescue organizations operating in the area before an animal could be euthanized. A rescue group willing to take the animal would have to pick it up within two days.
The law would establish approved chemical injection methods for euthanizing animals, thereby outlawing the gas chamber technique of killing animals.

The proposed law would make it illegal for a shelter to kill a healthy animal if there are empty cages available and would require shelters to keep public records on all animals impounded. If approved, the Act would require shelters to provide fresh food and fresh water to animals and allow the animals to exercise at least once a day. The law would require shelter personnel to clean animal cages and kennels at least twice a day. The cleaning of shelters would be conducted in accordance with guidance from a veterinarian, utilizing guidelines established by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

Rich Weber, president of the local SPCA, said the bill is good, but doesn’t provide for inspections.

“I agree with the bill,” he said. “But what I also feel is that they should have some sort of inspection set, by someone from the state, like the veterinarian association, to inspect on a yearly basis.”

The Navy veteran says West Virginia, and particularly Pocahontas County, lags behind other areas in animal shelter standards.

“Pocahontas County is way behind, compared to Greenbrier County,” he said. “I’ve looked at their operation and I’ve looked at other operations. The shelter is at the top of the county and the animals are out in the cold. I mean, literally, out in the cold. The crates are out in the cold. It’s muddy up there. The place didn’t conform to a shelter, when it was first established. I don’t even know if they’ve complied with the requirements of a shelter, as were stated in the supposed county bid requirements.”

J.L. Clifton, president of the Pocahontas County Humane Association, says he likes the bill.

“In a nutshell, I like it,” he said. “I like the fact that it provides accountability by the shelter agency, to include public notice of the animals that have gone through the system, for even years past. At first glance, when someone from the public is at a sheltering establishment, they can see what has gone on at that shelter. If the shelter agencies don’t do as they should, there’s relief set up through the courts.”
Sandy Mallow, operator of the Pocahontas County contract animal shelter, could not be reached for comment.

Anyone who wants to provide comments on the bill is encouraged to contact Delegate Butcher, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, at (304) 340-3113 or (304) 855-8517. You can also reach your local state representatives to comment on the bill by visiting the West Virginia Legislature website.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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