Last year, West Virginia's Governor of Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have cracked down on exotic animal ownership in the state, which poses a threat to both people and animals.
Now the state remains only one of five with no regulations concerning exotic animals, which officials still believe is a problem, while others believe the state's lax laws will lead to more people coming in with exotics to escape bans in other states. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, no laws mean wildlife officials in the state have no idea what type, or how many exotic animals are in the state, but they've had escapees in the past including alligators, a water buffalo and a lion, among others.
Now the Division of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health are working together to create legislation they hope to get passed during the next legislative session.
If they're successful this time around, the new law would create a Dangerous Wild Animal Control Board to regulate species. Those who already own a dangerous exotic animal would be grandfathered in and allowed to keep them, as long as they register their animals and meet safety requirements. It will also help ensure proper housing and veterinary care and that owners have a plan in place for what owners will do with their animals in the event of a natural disaster or other problems.
Please sign the petition urging West Virginia's lawmakers to support legislation that will protect both people and exotic animals.
As someone who is concerned with animal welfare and public safety, I am writing to urge you to pass legislation that will crack down on exotic ownership in your state.
West Virginia is currently one of five states with no regulations concerning exotic animals, which officials have cited as a problem, while others believe the lax laws will lead to more people coming in with exotics to escape bans in other states. Having no laws in place also means no one has any idea about what kinds of animals, or how many of them there are in the state, but past escapes have already highlighted the need for regulations and permit requirements for those who possess, breed, and sell exotic species.
I sincerely hope you will support legislation that will protect both animals and people in your state.