West Virginia HB 3080 would create statewide BSL

Edit 4/10/11: This bill has died in committee.

Please read through this entire post to understand the strange situation presented by this bill that has been newly introduced in the West Virginia Legislature. Thanks to Jo for the heads up.

West Virgina HB 3080, as filed, declares all “pit bulls” to be “dangerous”; owners of “pit bulls” would therefore be subject to a number of proposed restrictions on dangerous dogs. However, due to a lack of careful editing, the bill as filed would also prohibit the labeling of dogs as dangerous based on their breed. Obviously, these two actions contradict each other.

HB 3080 as originally written would prohibit breed-specific legislation in West Virginia. Delegate Mark Hunt evidently inserted the pit bull-specific definition of dangerous dog at the request of a constituent. Unfortunately, due to this hasty insertion, the bill now conflicts with itself.

See if you can follow along. I have boldfaced the important text.

ARTICLE 20C. DANGEROUS DOG ACT.
§19-20C-1. Definitions.
For the purposes of this article, these terms are defined as follows:[…]

(c) “Dangerous dog” includes any dog that:

(1) Has, off its owner’s property, attacked another animal or livestock;
(2) Has attacked, unprovoked, any human being, whether on or off the owner’s property;
(3) Any breed of pit bull; or
(4) Has bitten or attacked a person, causing wounds or serious injury creating a potential danger to the health and life of the victim;
(5) This term does not include those animals which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against the owner or agent of the owner :

(A) Which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is committing a criminal trespass upon the premises occupied by the owner, agent, or keeper of the animal;
(B) Which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the animal, or;
(C) That are certain breeds or types of dog.[…]

§19-20C-9. Exceptions.
A dog may not be declared a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog based solely on:

(a) The breed or type of dog;[…]

Assuming HB 3080 is ultimately revised to make sense with the breed-specific language, it would propose a myriad of restrictions on all “pit bull breeds.” Note that “any breed of pit bull” is not defined by this proposed law so it is unknown exactly which breeds of dogs would be subject to it.

WV HB 3080 has been sent to the Agriculture Committee for consideration. West Virginia residents, please contact your state representative and senator, the members of the Agriculture Committee, and the bill author to express your opposition to this bill as written. Please be respectful and informative in all correspondence with legislators.

This bill has no hope of getting through committee without revision to clear up the conflicts. Please encourage legislators to revise so that it is NOT breed-specific. In your correspondence, please ask that HB 3080 §19-20C-1 definition (c)(3) be removed. This is an easy revision that will eliminate the wording conflicts and the breed-specific language. The alternative revision, which would make the bill entirely breed-specific, is NOT an acceptable revision.

HB 3080 author: Delegate Mark Hunt, mhunt@markahunt.com

Find your state representative and senator here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Districts/district_zip/zipmems.cfm

Members of the Agriculture Committee:
Delegate Butcher, greg.butcher@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Walker, david.walker@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Evans, allen.evans@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Canterbury, ray.canterbury@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Boggs, brent.boggs@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Guthrie, nancy.guthrie@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Hall, daniel.hall@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Manypenny, mike.manypenny@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Martin, dale.martin@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Phillips, L., linda.phillips@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Phillips, R., rupert.phillips@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Poling, M., mary.poling@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Rodighiero, ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Swartzmiller, rswartzmiller@hotmail.com
Delegate Wells, danny.wells@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Williams, larry.williams@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Anderson, bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Border, larry.border@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Ireland, woody.ireland@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Miller, C., carol.miller@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Overington, john@overington.com
Delegate Romine, roger.romine@wvhouse.gov
Delegate Storch, erikka.storch@wvhouse.gov

Email block for cut-and-paste
greg.butcher@wvhouse.gov; david.walker@wvhouse.gov; allen.evans@wvhouse.gov; ray.canterbury@wvhouse.gov; brent.boggs@wvhouse.gov; nancy.guthrie@wvhouse.gov; daniel.hall@wvhouse.gov; mike.manypenny@wvhouse.gov; dale.martin@wvhouse.gov; linda.phillips@wvhouse.gov; rupert.phillips@wvhouse.gov; mary.poling@wvhouse.gov; ralph.rodighiero@wvhouse.gov; rswartzmiller@hotmail.com; danny.wells@wvhouse.gov; larry.williams@wvhouse.gov; bill.anderson@wvhouse.gov; larry.border@wvhouse.gov; woody.ireland@wvhouse.gov; carol.miller@wvhouse.gov; john@overington.com; roger.romine@wvhouse.gov; erikka.storch@wvhouse.gov

It is worth noting that a similar dangerous dog control bill presented to the legislature, HB 2716, is not breed-specific; however, neither does it expressly prohibit BSL. HB 2716 has also been passed to the Agriculture Committee for consideration.

HB 3080 can be read in its entirety here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_text.cfm?billdoc=hb3080+intr.htm&yr=2011&sesstype=RS&i=3080

HB 3080 can be tracked here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/bills_history.cfm?year=2011&sessiontype=RS&i=3080

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