2014: West Virginia Senate Bill 428

West Virginia Action Alert

West Virginia SB 428 (Dangerous Wild Animals Act) was introduced January 24, 2014 and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources. This bill mirrors proposed Senate Bill 466 from 2013. View the bill text at www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=sb428%20intr.htm&yr=2014&sesstype=RS&i=428.

According to the bill: "The possession of dangerous wild animals presents serious public health and safety concerns and shall be regulated for the following reasons."

As we know, exotic pets do not pose public safety concerns and this bill is more legislation pushed by anti-pet groups.

The bill seeks to form a Dangerous Wild Animal Board which will have rulemaking authority (no public input) to list any species as a "dangerous wild animal." Any species listed would be prohibited.

This bill is nothing more than money and resources wasted to "fix" a problem that does not exist. Contact information for all Committee on Finance members is at the bottom of this page.

At this time, it is crucial for West Virginia to contact legislators and address their concerns. Also, any herp societies, 4H clubs, pet businesses, pet owners, etc. should collaborate. USARK is here to assist, advise and provide valuable information at local and state levels, but local herpers, exotic pet keepers, business owners and others affected need to make their voices heard.

Below is a sample letter. It is always best to personalize the letter is some manner. Remember to always be professional and civil when addressing legislators and commenting publicly. __________________________________________________________________________________________

Sample Letter for West Virginia SB 428

Natural Resources Committee Member,

I write today to oppose SB 428. This bill will punish responsible reptile and exotic animal keepers and is a waste of West Virginia's money and resources. This bill will cost the state of West Virginia millions or even tens of millions of dollars to implement and enforce. West Virginia will be wasting taxpayers' money to fix a problem that does not exist because legislators are allowing public policy to be influenced by special interest groups.

While I understand your concerns over public safety, the exotic and reptile pet communities have evolved greatly and pet owners are much more responsible and educated. A public safety concern is non-existent. Bills such as this only create problems that did not previously exist. States that have passed similar bills recently are now seeing the mistakes made and problems created to protect the public and environment when they were never actually threatened.

On its own, the reptile sector of the pet industry represents annual revenues over $8,000,000 for West Virginia’s small businesses. Reptiles purchased as pets require caging, food and other supplies. An estimated 30,000 residents in West Virginia responsibly own reptiles. This legislation does not protect the citizens of West Virginia but it does punish them.

This type of legislation is pushed by anti-pet groups posing as animal welfare organizations. Animal cruelty should certainly be addressed, but banning and over-regulating pet ownership are not effective means to handle this concern. It’s a shame that the great state of West Virginia would allow special interest groups to influence public policy and not protect the freedoms of its citizens. Responsible pet owners are constantly being punished by overreaching legislation.

The reptile segment of the pet industry accounts for nearly $1.5 billion dollars in the U.S. annually and that revenue is being threatened by continual legislation. With so many critical dilemmas in our country including poverty, failing education system, hunger, shortage of jobs and pollution, why are states focusing so many resources to “fix” problems that don’t even exist? State governments should be fixing real issues and not removing more freedoms from their hardworking and taxpaying citizens. Pet ownership is a matter of personal responsibility and not government action. I implore you to vote “No” on SB 428.

Sincerely,

Your name, address, contact info, etc. __________________________________________________________________________________________

Contact Information for Senate Natural Resources Committee Members

Robert D. Beach (D - Monongalia, 13) SPONSOR
bob.beach@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 204W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7919
Home: P.O. Box 1620, Morgantown, WV, 26501
Home Phone: (304) 932-7170

William R. Laird IV (D - Fayette, 10) SPONSOR
william.laird@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 229W, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7849
Home: 225 Highland Avenue Oak Hill, WV, 25901
Home Phone: (304) 469-8055

Roman Prezioso (D - Marion, 13)
roman.prezioso@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 465M, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7961
Home: 1806 Dogwood Drive Fairmont, WV, 26554
Home Phone: (304) 366-5308
 
Douglas E. Facemire (D - Braxton, 12)
douglas.facemire@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office:Room 217W, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7845
Home: P.O. Box 215 Sutton, WV, 26601
Home Phone: (304) 765-2231 Business Phone: (304) 364-9903

Larry J. Edgell (D - Wetzel, 02)
larry.edgell@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 206W, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7827
Home: 600 Fifth Street New Martinsville, WV, 26155
Home Phone: (304) 455-5304
 
Mike Green (D - Raleigh, 09)
mike.green@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 206W, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7831
Home: P.O. Box 274 Daniels, WV, 25832
Home Phone: (304) 763-3365 Business Phone: (304) 763-3461
 
Brooks McCabe (D - Kanawha, 17)
brooks.mccabe@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 209W, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7990
Home: 1223 Staunton Road Charleston, WV, 25314
Home Phone: (304) 342-1961 Business Phone: (304) 347-7500
 
Mike Hall (R - Putnam, 04)
mike.hall@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 245M, Building 1 State Capitol Complex Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7901
Home: 76 Crystal Springs Winfield, WV, 25213
Home Phone: (304) 757-8249 Business Phone: (304) 549-8126
 
Donald H. Cookman (D - Hampshire, 15)
donald.cookman@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 417M, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7980
Home: 356 Woodland Way, Romney, WV, 26757,
Home Phone: (304) 822-5104, Business Phone: (304) 357-7980

Bob Williams (D - Taylor, 14)
bob.williams@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 223W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7995
Home: P.O. Box 562, Grafton, WV, 26354
Home Phone: (304) 842-7161

Bill Cole (R - Mercer, 06)
bill.cole@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 200W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7843
Home: 404 Oakhurst Avenue, Bluefield, WV, 24701
Home Phone: (304) 324-0040
Business Phone: (304) 3270511

Evan H. Jenkins (R - Cabell, 05)
evan.jenkins@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 216W, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7956
Home: 121 Oak Lane, Huntington, WV, 25701
Home Phone: (304) 523-1365, Business Phone: (304) 925-0342

Chris Walters (R - Putnam, 08)
chris.walters@wvsenate.gov
Capitol Office: Room 441M, Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7866
Home: 117 Walnut Street, Nitro, WV, 25143
Home Phone: (304) 542-1049, Business Phone: (304) 346-4823

Article written by USARK