The purpose of this article is to establish a rabies vaccination procedure for dogs and cats and to check the spread of rabies for the immediate preservation of life, health and safety for the reason that rabies is spreading among dogs and cats, and becoming a menace and danger to people, livestock, poultry and game, and the provisions herein are designated to prevent the spread of rabies.
(a) A person who owns, obtains or possesses a dog or cat within the State of West Virginia shall have the dog or cat properly vaccinated against rabies with a vaccine capable of producing immunity for three years, boostered one year after initial vaccination and every third year thereafter. Dogs and cats need not be vaccinated before the age of three months, but must be vaccinated by the age of six months.
(b) Dogs and cats over six months of age entering the State of West Virginia must have been vaccinated for rabies as set forth in subsection (a) of this section prior to entry.
(c) A dog or cat may be vaccinated by any licensed veterinarian or his or her assistant. If there is no licensed veterinarian practicing in the county, a qualified person may be appointed by the county health department to administer vaccinations.
Whoever vaccinates or revaccinates a dog or cat against rabies shall keep a record of such vaccination or revaccination, and on or before the first day of each calendar month thereafter, shall mail to or deliver to the county clerk of the county where the vaccination takes place a report of such vaccination or revaccination which shall include a number identifying the individual record of the dog or cat vaccinated, a complete description of the dog or cat, place where the dog or cat is kept or harbored, name of the owner, keeper or harborer, his or her address, date and type of vaccination or revaccination and such other information as may be required by the county health department or the county commission over the signature of the person reporting.
Each person vaccinating a dog or cat for rabies shall provide a "certificate of rabies vaccination" which shall contain the following information:
(a) Name of the county where the owner of the animal resides;
(b) Vaccination tag number;
(c) Identification of the animal by color, weight, breed, age and sex;
(d) Name, address and telephone number of the owner;
(e) Type of vaccine, the manufacturer of the vaccine and the serial number;
(f) Date of the vaccination;
(g) Identification of the veterinarian, doctor of medicine or person administering the vaccination;
(h) Such other information as the commissioner of agriculture may require.
The owner of the animal shall retain the original certificate of vaccination in his or her records. Copies of the certificate or a computer printout that contains the information required above shall be filed with the person administering the vaccination and the clerk of the county commission in the county where the owner of the animal resides.
Tags to be furnished by the county commission shall be of a distinctive and easily recognized color, and shall have thereon engraved, or stamped, the year of vaccination and the number indicating the record above described. Such tag shall be securely fastened to the collar worn by the dog and shall be given to the owner by the veterinarian, the doctor of medicine or the person vaccinating the dog or cat at the time of vaccination.
It is the duty of the veterinarian, or person vaccinating each animal to furnish vaccine of a type capable of establishing and maintaining immunity for a period of not less than thirty-six months and he or she shall charge and collect a fee of not more than $8 for each animal vaccinated, if done at a clinic established by a county commission or, if vaccinated at any other place, he or she shall charge and collect a reasonable fee for his or her services.
Whoever owns, keeps or harbors a dog or cat and fails to have such dog or cat vaccinated or revaccinated against rabies, and whoever vaccinates a dog or cat against rabies and fails or refuses to keep and report the required record of such vaccination, or fails or refuses to provide the required tag, or whoever obstructs or interferes in any way with the enforcement of any section of this article shall, upon conviction, be fined not less than $10 nor more than $50, or be confined in the county jail not less than ten days nor more than sixty days, or both.
The enforcement of the provisions of this article is in the hands of the sheriff of each county, any of his or her deputies, constables, natural resources police officers, and, if considered necessary, there shall be a special officer to be appointed by the county commission, who is authorized, empowered, and directed to inspect rabies, pick up dogs and cats and dispose of dogs which are not taxable or not vaccinated according to this article. The sheriff of each county can have one or more sittings, if considered necessary, in each district of the county, at which he or she shall be present or have present one of his or her deputies or the special officer above provided for, to take charge of all delinquent dogs and cats and homeless dogs and cats that are not vaccinated. The assessor of each county, or one of his or her deputies, shall accompany the veterinarian, doctor, or the one who administers the vaccine in these sittings for the purpose of collecting taxes on dogs. All dogs which are not vaccinated and for which taxes are unpaid become the responsibility of the sheriff to catch and dispose of as is provided by law.
Dogs or cats vaccinated in compliance with the provisions of this article may run at large in any area or locality: Provided, That the commissioner of agriculture may, pursuant to article nine of this chapter, exercise his discretion to establish a quarantined area or locality and to require all dogs and cats within the limits of any quarantined area or locality to be confined as provided in article nine: Provided, however, That a county commission or a municipality may adopt and enforce ordinances not inconsistent with the provisions of article twenty of this chapter of the code, as it considers necessary or convenient for the control and management of all dogs in the county, or a portion thereof, vaccinated or not, except as further provided herein: Provided further, That any county commission or municipality may not adopt any ordinance which purports to keep any vaccinated dog from running at large while engaged in any lawful hunting activity; from running at large while engaged in any lawful training activity; or from running at large while engaged in any lawful herding or other farm related activity: And provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not exempt any dog from any quarantine established by or any confinement order required by the commissioner relating to the establishment of a quarantine.