Senate Bill No. 540
(By Senator Unger)
[Introduced February 17, 2011; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §19-33-1, §19-33-2, §19-33-3, §19-33-4, §19-33-5 and §19-33-6, all relating to the Equine Early Intervention and Protection Act; definitions; licensing of equine facilities; inspections; legislative rules; and penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §19-33-1, §19-33-2, §19-33-3, §19-33-4, §19-33-5 and §19-33-6, all to read as follows: ARTICLE 33. EQUINE EARLY INTERVENTION AND PROTECTION ACT.
§19-33-1. Legislative purpose.
Recently there have been a number of well publicized cases of equine abuse where significant numbers of horses have died of starvation or were severely malnourished. There is a need for licensing and inspection of equine facilities to ensure the safety and welfare of equines, and to enable county humane officers or animal control officers to identify equine abuse at an early stage where those animals can be saved and spared needless suffering. §19-33-2. Definitions.
For purposes of this article:
(1) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(2) "Equine boarding facility" means a facility that charges a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, or annual fee for boarding equines.
(3) "Equine breeding facility" means a farm or equine facility that produces three or more (equine) foals annually.
(4) "Equine rescue facility" means a facility that is listed as a nonprofit organization having a legitimate and current status under 501(3)(C) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, that fosters care to unwanted equines due to age, health, or other circumstances that deem the equine homeless.
(5) "Equine riding academy facility" means a facility that uses equines as mounts for humans and teaches humans proper riding technique.
(6) "Equine therapy facility" means a facility where riding, grooming and visiting equines are used for physical and mental therapy for humans.
(7) "Equine training facility" means a farm, stable or area designated as a place where equines are trained to perform certain functions. §19-33-3. Licensing of equine facilities.
No person may operate an equine facility as defined in section two of this article without an Equine Facility License issued by the Department of Agriculture. The annual fee for an Equine Facility License is $100, which shall be remitted by the commissioner to the humane officer or animal control officer in the county where the facility is located to offset the expense of inspecting that facility. If the county does not have a humane officer or animal control officer, the commissioner shall remit the license fee to the sheriff of the county where the facility is located.
§19-33-4. Inspections of equine facilities. Upon application for an Equine Facility License, the commissioner shall notify the county humane officer or animal control officer in the county where the equine facility is located, who shall inspect the facility prior to issuance of an Equine Facility License, and thereafter, not less than twice annually. If the county does not have a humane officer or animal control officer, the sheriff of that county is responsible for inspections of equine facilities in the county. §19-33-5. Legislative Rules. The commissioner shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty- nine-a of this code to provide for the following:
(1) The issuance of Equine Facility Licences and revocation of such licenses for violations of the provisions of this article or rules adopted hereunder;
(2) Notification of the application and issuance of an Equine Facility License to the humane officer, animal control officer or county sheriff in the county where the facility is located and remittance of the annual Equine Facility License fee;
(3) Standards for maintenance of the premises, the care and health of the horses kept at equine facilities, and standards for inspection of those facilities and horses, using current guidelines issued by the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute for equine facilities as a basis for those standards; and
(4) Standards for closure of an equine facility and seizure of horses at the facility where the health and welfare of the horses are endangered. §19-33-6. Penalties.
Any person violating a provision of this article or rules adopted hereunder is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 for the first offense, and for the second or subsequent offense shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,500.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the Equine Early Intervention and Protection Act.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
I don't see any provisions for training AC officers (or the local sheriff) so there's no way to ensure they have a clue about horses. And, in my experience, they're barely keeping up with small animal issues -- so now they'll have to inspect any place that has horses at least twice a year?? Oh, and the guidelines referenced (http://www.awionline.org/ht/d/Conten...23435/pid/2459 ) are for rescue facilities and mandate gelding all intact males. Kinda makes it difficult to breed once they're gelded.
Yes, there've been some highly-publicized and very sad cases of abuse and neglect in the recent past. But I don't think this bill is the answer. It seems like more of a knee-jerk reaction written by someone whose heart might be in the right place but doesn't really know much about horses and horsekeeping.
Anyway, Senator John Unger is the sponsor and his phone number is (304) 357-7933. His office is logging calls on the bill.
Originally Posted by King's Ransom
"Now, did you really mean that I should half-pass to the right whilst turning on the haunches to the left? Or was that just you farting?"
I agree that most AC officers have little to no training in equine care/training/breeding or anything else (and this is out here where horses are common and used for work all the time). I would want to see mandatory training of AC officers/sheriff's officers. I would also want to see more of an attitude of assisting owners in remedying problems than just slapping fines on them. I also find the idea of having to license any training facility, breeding facility, boarding facility etc....looks like a $ maker for the ag dept/AC/sheriff's dept. I occasionally take in a horse for training so would I have to pay out $100 to do so? I also breed (more than 3 foals some years, some years less) so would I have to pay out $100 for that as well. And if a friend leaves her horse here and pays for his care while she's getting class time to upgrade work skills would I have to pay another $100 as a boarding facility? What are the things that inspections would be looking for? Standards (generally unwritten but established within a community or region) can vary widely. Here in NV in the desert we have almost no barns and horses live outdoors 24/7. Some are blanketed and others grow hair. Some have tank heaters for their water while others get ice broken out every morning. Some are shod while others work barefoot and get trimmed 3-4 times a year to keep them balanced (and wear their feet down on the often rocky/gravelly area they work in). Some are fed hay in pens and others run on hundreds of acres of rangeland with big bales of hay dragged out for them weekly or hay wagons driven out and hay forked off a couple times a week. Most live behind barbed wire fences although those in pens may be behind pipe panels or electric fencing. How are "standards" going to be provided for such widely ranging ways of caring for horses?
Jeez. Like the dog wagging the tail here. AC is a joke around here. The AC officer that came to look at a local problem here was maybe 18 years old. Maybe. I stopped her to ask her what she intended to do. She had no clue, none. No training in large animals. So those of us that can, feed others animals because we can't stand to watch it. It's totally worth the effort for the animals. I don't even call AC here anymore.
So are we to believe that paying fees is going to make it better? Unbelievable.
You may have noted the big push on many states for any kind of animal rights bills, or something similar, coated as animal protection bills.
Well, that is what the HSUS has been saying, no, threatening to do for a few years now, to go to each state and change the laws, so as to "protect", I take it more as "disturb" our use of our animals.
You may not see the HSUS name near any such bill any more, they have learned that is negative PR for them after the fiasco in IL and ND, but if you scratch below the surface, I would not be surprised to find someone that has their ear handling some of the push for those bills in most states.
Be careful of those bills, be sure those that can that are truly for the animals AND our rights to use them can have a say in what is in the bills, or we will find we can't have or use our horses any more, not without that becoming such a burden as to kill our horse industry, one little corner of each bill at the time.
Of course it's HSUS at work. The good Senator didn't come to the AAEP, WVTBA, WV Horse Council, ag extension, 4 H, PC, Farnm Bureau, horse registries or clubs, or horse businesses inhis back yard. This is lobbying from HSUS, taking advantage of some sad rescues and cruelty cases of late. Unfortunately the bill does nothing to prevent those.