West Virginia Dog Bill Amended to Protect Sporting Dog Owners

Posted on 02/26/2012

Sportsmen's Calls Still Needed to Protect The Sporting Dog Exemption

West Virginia Senate Bill 406, sponsored by Senate President Jeffrey V. Kessler (D-Marshall), creates new regulations for dog owners classified as "commercial dog breeders."  The original definition of a commercial breeder included anyone who owned 11 or more unsterilized adult dogs, who was in the business of breeding animals for sale, and who sold more than 15 dogs in a year.  This original definition would have wrongfully classified many sporting dog owners as commercial dog breeders.

Under the bill, commercial breeders are subject to warrantless government inspections of their property, new standards of care and housing requirements meant for substandard large scale dog breeders, and yearly permitting.

Before passing the Senate, two amendments protecting sporting dog owners were made to SB406 by the Senate Committee on Judiciary.   The first amendment specifically exempts dog owners who keep or breed dogs for the purpose of hunting, tracking, or participating in field trials from being classified as a commercial dog breeder.  It also exempts herding, livestock, and show dogs.  The second amendment to the bill clarifies that only dog owners who are in the business of breeding dogs "exclusively as household pets" are considered commercial dog breeders.  This additional language will also help ensure that sporting dog owners are not considered commercial dog breeders.

SB406 now moves to the House of Delegates where it has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary.

"We applaud the Senate for recognizing that sporting dog owners should not be classified and regulated in the same manner as abusive, large-scale commercial dog breeding operations," said Jeremy Rine, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance in-house counsel and associate director of state services.  "Sporting dog owners, however, aren't out of the woods yet.  Sportsmen need to call their House Delegates and ask them to keep the amendment language protecting sporting dogs."

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