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§7-10-2. Duty of humane officers; reporting requirement when abuse or neglect of individuals suspected; prohibition against interference with humane officers; penalties.

(a) It is the duty of humane officers to prevent the perpetration or continuance of any act of cruelty upon any animal and to investigate and, upon probable cause, to cause the arrest and assist in the prosecution of any person engaging in such cruel and forbidden practices. Upon reasonable cause, and as provided by law, such officers have the right to access and inspection of records and property as may be reasonably necessary to any investigation.

(b) Whenever a humane officer, pursuant to an investigation of animal cruelty, forms a reasonable suspicion that a minor child, or incapacitated or elderly person, is the victim of abuse or neglect or has a suspicion of domestic violence, he or she shall report the suspicion and the grounds therefor. In the event of suspected child abuse or neglect, the humane officer shall report to the local child protective services agency of the Department of Health and Human Resources in accordance with the provisions of section five, article six-a, chapter forty-nine of this code. In the event of suspected abuse or neglect of an incapacitated or elderly person, he or she shall report to the department's local adult protective services agency in accordance with the provisions of section eleven, article six, chapter nine of this code. In the event of suspected domestic violence, he or she shall report to the State Police in accordance with the provisions of article twenty-seven, chapter forty-eight of this code.

(c) Any person who interferes with, obstructs or resists any humane officer in the discharge of his or her duty is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or confined in jail not more than thirty days, or both fined and confined. Any penalties imposed for a violation of this subsection shall be imposed in addition to any penalties the person incurs for cruel or inhumane treatment of any animal.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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