EXPIRED: Deadline was August 1

EXPIRED: Deadline was August 1

What to do: Fight to protect your freedoms. West Virginia residents only! If you live in another state, please see Action Alert #2 at www.usark.org/2014-blog/west-virginia-dwa/.

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Subject: Proposed Rule 61-30: Comment on DWA Act

Respected West Virginia Legislator,

As an affected West Virginia pet owner, I would like to voice my concern regarding the new Dangerous Wild Animal (DWA) Act. The proposed list of species will decimate pet ownership and destroy pet and livestock-related businesses in West Virginia. Not only this, but the additional fees assigned to these listed species will lead to the unnecessary euthanization of longtime pets.

This poorly-written piece of legislation does not provide an exemption for pet owners who already have these species. The added expenses from annual permits and required liability insurance, which is completely unnecessary for animals who never come into contact with the general public, will force many longtime pets to be surrendered to the State or even euthanized. How can the State burden its hardworking and tax-paying citizens with these overbearing new costs to simply keep their pets? The more species listed, the greater the number of state residents who will be unjustly affected.

Many species are being proposed due solely on the miniscule chance that someone could potentially attain a zoonotic (transferable from animal to human) disease. This is possible from any animal. As with interactions with humans, interactions with animals that are not followed by proper hygiene (i.e. hand washing) may lead to disease transmission. You cannot punish an entire population at the slim chance that irresponsible people do not practice proper hygiene.

Other species are proposed for public safety concerns. Interactions with horses, large constrictor snakes, other hoofstock, etc. have the potential for injury, but that is accepted by the individuals interacting with them. It is not a public safety risk. Other species may be listed in fear of invasive populations becoming established. Those listings need to be based upon legitimate, peer-reviewed science. Most troubling is the fact that many species have been proposed simply due to biases by members of the DWA subcommittee, as apparent from statements made during interviews and reported in the media. This is severely unconstitutional.

The below statistics may help to visualize the scope of West Virginia citizens who will be affected by the proposed DWA list (statistics via American Pet Product Association’s (APPA) 2013 National Pet Survey).

Percentage of West Virginia households with the following pets:

o Freshwater fish: 12%
o Small Mammals: 6%
o Reptiles: 5%
o Birds: 6%
o Horses: 2.3% (not including other hoofstock such as Llamas)
o Marine Fish: 1.5%

Please consider the negative impact your decision will have on West Virginians who will be affected by this new law. The DWA Board may not understand quite the dire consequences their decisions may have on the West Virginia economy, residents and pets. The Board refused assistance from West Virginia residents and national organizations while drafting their list.

The proposed list, and the DWA law itself, is overreaching. Please keep an open mind as this proposed rule progresses. We hope you’ll address concerns from your constituents. Thank you for your time and consideration on behalf of this West Virginia resident and have a good day.


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