The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

January 9, 2014

W.Va. animal laws, state legislators recognized

For the past five years, the Humane Society of the United States has released a “Humane State Ranking,” rating each state based on its animal protection laws. For 2013, West Virginia ranked as the most improved state.

The HSUS ranked West Virginia as No. 30 for 2013, up eight spots from 2012 after the passage of laws to regulate puppy mills and support spay/neuter programs.

Many state legislators worked hard to make laws a reality, and the HSUS is recognizing four of them as “Humane Legislators of the Year” — Sen. John R. Unger II, D-Berkeley; Sen. William R. Laird IV, D-Fayette; Speaker of the House Tim Miley, D-Harrison; and Delegate Mike Manypenny. D-Taylor.

“We’ve worked for five years on the passing of the puppy mill law, so to think about how many people advocated for that law and for the thousands of dogs who will live better lives, it was wonderful to see that come to fruition,” said Summer Wyatt, West Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

She said the Humane Society was lucky enough to have an additional piece of animal protection legislation passed — a fund for non-profit organizations to receive grants to spay and neuter pets.

“This is not a taxpayer obligatory fund, this is completely off of donations. It allows animal shelters and other non-profit animal organizations to give grants so people can spay and neuter their pets.”

This fund will help decrease overpopulation in shelters and help prevent euthanizations.

President and CEO of the HSUS Wayne Pacelle said animal protection is a core value of our society and the state laws must reflect this sensibility.

“We applaud all the states that passed important protections for animals last year, and urge lawmakers to continue making animal issues a priority in 2014, especially the states that are lagging,” Pacelle said.

The ranking system analyses all 50 states and Washington, D.C., then grades each state on its strength of 75 different animal protection issues, including policies about animal cruelty and fighting, pets, wildlife, equines, animals in research and farm animals.

California held onto first place and South Dakota came in last.

To find out where other states rank, visit www.humanesociety.org and search “Humane State Ranking.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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