WEST virginia legislature
2021 regular session
Senate Bill 306
By Senators Takubo, Phillips, Stollings, Grady, Ihlenfeld, Unger, and nelson
[Introduced February 17,
to the Committee on the Judiciary]
A BILL to amend and reenact §61-8-19 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to the removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles; defining terms, setting forth conditions to rescue and retrieve an animal in danger in an unattended vehicle; providing for written notice to the owner of the motor vehicle; providing for payment of fees and costs associated with the maintenance, care, and medical treatment of an animal; limiting search of a motor vehicle during rescue; providing for seizure of items found in certain circumstances; providing for civil and criminal immunity to persons, their employees, or agents who retrieve an animal; and providing for criminal penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 8. CRIMES AGAINST CHASTITY, MORALITY AND DECENCY.
§61-8-19. Cruelty to animals; penalties; exclusions.
(a)(1) For the purposes of this section “agent” means any:
(A) Emergency Medical Service Personnel as defined in §16-4C-1 et seq. of this code;
(B) Humane officer as defined in §7-10-1 et seq. of this code;
(C) Law-enforcement officer as defined in §30-29-1 et seq. of this code; and
(D) Member of a paid or volunteer local fire department.
(2) For purposes of this section an agent does not include members of the general public.
(a)(1) (b) (1) It is unlawful for any person to
intentionally, knowingly or recklessly,
(A) Mistreat an animal in cruel manner;
(B) Abandon an animal;
(i) Proper sustenance, including food or water;
(ii) Shelter that protects from the elements of weather; or
(iii) Medical treatment, necessary to sustain normal health and fitness or to end the suffering of any animal;
(D) Abandon an animal to die;
animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle when physical injury to, or
death of, the animal is likely to result
Leave an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle when physical
injury to, or death of, the animal is likely to result. The conditions which
may cause injury or death shall include, but are not limited to, exposure to
extreme heat or cold and insufficient ventilation.
(i) An agent may take all steps that are reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle if the animal’s health, safety, or wellbeing appears to be in immediate danger from heat, cold or lack of adequate ventilation and the conditions could reasonably be expected to cause extreme suffering or death.
(ii) An agent may enter the motor vehicle for the sole purpose of assisting the animal and may not search the vehicle or seize items found in the vehicle unless otherwise permitted by law.
(iii) An agent who removes or otherwise retrieves an animal pursuant to this section shall leave written notice in a secure and conspicuous location on or in the motor vehicle bearing the officer’s name and title and the address of the location where the animal may be retrieved. The owner may retrieve the animal only after payment of all charges that have accrued for the maintenance, care, medical treatment and impoundment of the animal have been paid.
(iv) An agent who removes or otherwise retrieves an animal from a motor vehicle pursuant to this article, and the agency or municipality that employs the agent shall be immune from criminal or civil liability that might otherwise result from the removal of the animal.
(F) Ride an animal when it is physically unfit;
(G) Bait or harass an animal for the purpose of making it perform for a person’s amusement;
(H) Cruelly chain or tether an animal; or
(I) Use, train or possess a domesticated animal for the purpose of seizing, detaining or maltreating any other domesticated animal.
(2) Any person in violation of subdivision (1) of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $2,000 or confined in jail not more than six months, or both.
(b) (c) A person who intentionally tortures, or
mutilates or maliciously kills an animal, or causes, procures or authorizes any
other person to torture, mutilate or maliciously kill an animal, is guilty of a
felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a correctional
facility not less than one nor more than five years and be fined not less than
$1,000 nor more than $5,000. For the purposes of this subsection, “torture”
means an action taken for the primary purpose of inflicting pain. (c) (d) A person, other than a licensed
veterinarian or a person acting under the direction or with the approval of a
licensed veterinarian, who knowingly and willfully administers or causes to be
administered to any animal participating in any contest any controlled substance
or any other drug for the purpose of altering or otherwise affecting said
animal's performance is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,000. (d) (e) Any person convicted of a violation of
this section forfeits his or her interest in any animal and all interest in the
animal vests in the humane society or county pound of the county in which the
conviction was rendered and the person is, in addition to any fine imposed,
liable for any costs incurred or to be incurred by the humane society or county
pound as a result. (e) (f) For the purpose of this section, the term “controlled
substance” has the same meaning ascribed to it by §60A-1-101(d) of this code. (f) (g) The provisions of this section do not
apply to lawful acts of hunting, fishing, trapping or animal training or farm
livestock, poultry, gaming fowl or wildlife kept in private or licensed game
farms if kept and maintained according to usual and accepted standards of
livestock, poultry, gaming fowl or wildlife or game farm production and
management, nor to humane use of animals or activities regulated under and in
conformity with the provisions of 7 U.S.C. §2131, et seq., and the
regulations promulgated thereunder, as both statutes and regulations are in
effect on the effective date of this section. (g) (h) Notwithstanding the provisions of
subsection (a) (b) of this section, any person convicted of a
second or subsequent violation of subsection (a) (b) is guilty of
a misdemeanor and, shall be confined in jail for a period of not less than 90
days nor more than one year, fined not less than $500 nor more than $3,000, or
both fined and confined. The incarceration confinement set
forth in this subsection is mandatory unless the provisions of subsection (h)
(i) (h)(1) (i) (1) Notwithstanding any provision of this
code to the contrary, no person who has been convicted of a violation of the
provisions of subsection (a) or (b) or (c) of this section may be
granted probation until the defendant has undergone a complete psychiatric or
psychological evaluation and the court has reviewed the evaluation. Unless the
defendant is determined by the court to be indigent, he or she is responsible
for the cost of the evaluation.
(2) For any person
convicted of a violation of subsection
(a) or (b) or (c) of this
section, the court may, in addition to the penalties provided in this section,
impose a requirement that he or she complete a program of anger management
intervention for perpetrators of animal cruelty. Unless the defendant is
determined by the court to be indigent, he or she is responsible for the cost
of the program. (i) (j) In addition to any other penalty which can
be imposed for a violation of this section, a court shall prohibit any person
so convicted from possessing, owning or residing with any animal or type of
animal for a period of five years following entry of a misdemeanor conviction
and 15 years following entry of a felony conviction. A violation under this
subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,000 and
forfeiture of the animal.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to permit removal of animals left unattended in motor vehicles. The bill defines terms. The bill sets forth conditions to rescue and retrieve an animal in danger in an unattended vehicle. The bill provides for written notice to the owner of the motor vehicle. The bill provides for payment of fees and costs associated with the maintenance, care, and medical treatment of an animal. The bill limits search of a motor vehicle during rescue. The bill provides for seizure of items found in certain circumstances. The bill provides for civil and criminal immunity to persons, their employees or agents who retrieve an animal. The bill provides for criminal penalties.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.