The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

May 6, 2013

Commercial dog breeder bill signed

CHARLESTON — Five years ago, a former Miss West Virginia embarked on a crusade to put commercial dog breeders on a leash.

Everyone was eager to meet the one-time beauty queen, many posing for pictures with her, but few seemed willing to consider Summer Wyatt’s plea to regulate the so-called “puppy mills.”

There were highs and lows, the bill getting through this committee, then that, passing one chamber, dying in another.

Then came the pinnacle of success Friday — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed SB437, a bill that finally cleared both chambers, although there was some drama in the House of Delegates near the end of the session.

“It is definitely an unbelievable and wonderful feeling,” said Wyatt, the state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

“I’m looking forward to working with law enforcement in each county on enforcement of all the bill’s provisions. We have a lot of work ahead, but this piece of legislation allows for us to begin the work to save so many lives.”

Wyatt made essentially the same pitch to lawmakers in every session — that pups have been mistreated in shoddy conditions.

At least one lawmaker, Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, provided a personal glimpse by revealing how he made arrangements to purchase a pup only to be told the transaction had to be made at a remote location. He was barred from entering the premises to see the pup’s parents or other canines.

When he fetched the dog, even after some scrubbing, it continued to reek of feces.

Under the historic legislation, not all dogs raised by breeders fall under state regulation.

Excluded are those raised for hunting, tracking, guarding livestock (such as border collies), showing, field trials and greyhound breeders that are registered with the West Virginia Racing Commission.

“Breeds aren’t specified,” Wyatt emphasized. “It will be based on what they are selling the dogs for.”

Originally, the bill specified a range of dogs that would be included, but the final version that Tomblin approved doesn’t contain either a minimum or maximum.

Wyatt has said it isn’t known just how many breeders operate in West Virginia, since they aren’t regulated.

In a related vein, the governor also signed legislation that creates a spay/neuter fund financed by donations by the pet food industry. The idea is to deal with stray dogs and feral cats that are a nuisance in many parts of West Virginia, imposing a burden on animal shelters.

After one committee sent the bill out with its blessing, Wyatt said it is “definitely worth the effort.”

“We have a piece of legislation that can help thousands of animals and set a precedent for standards of care for thousands more,” she had reflected.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Rahall raises $324k in WVa’s 3rd; Jenkins, $194k

    Democrat U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall raised almost $324,000 last quarter for his contested re-election bid, while GOP challenger Evan Jenkins banked about $193,500.

    April 16, 2014

  • State regional jails ban touching during visits

    Concerns about drug contraband have prompted a ban on regional jail inmates touching loved ones during supervised contact visits.

    April 16, 2014

  • Renew W.Va. car registration online

    State residents strapped for time got a break Tuesday when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Acting Division of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Dale announced new DMV online options for renewing vehicle registration.

    April 16, 2014

  • Manchin says mines should speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rainelle Town Council pulls plans to annex roads

    Residents of several communities in Greenbrier County can rest assured they won’t be affected by a proposed road annexation after Rainelle Town Council decided not to move forward with the plan.

    April 16, 2014

  • City and county code enforcement offices separate

    After 10 years of partnership, the City of Beckley and the Raleigh County Code Enforcement offices have decided to part ways.
    Mayor Bill O’Brien said after several meetings with county commissioners, the groups decided to separate.

    April 16, 2014

  • snowywalk April is the cruelest month

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • eggy All mine!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 15, 2014

  • State jobless rate inches up in March

    West Virginia’s unemployment rate inched up in March to 6.1 percent.

    April 15, 2014