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Kanawha dog breeder ordinance to take effect Monday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County's new commercial dog breeder ordinance goes into effect next week and so far, the county has found just one breeder affected by the law.

In December, the county became the first in West Virginia to take advantage of a 2013 state law that allows counties to regulate and require permits for some commercial dog breeders. The formal order enacting the ordinance was signed at the commission's meeting on Jan. 9, and the ordinance takes effect Monday.

Affected breeders must obtain a permit from the county and pay a fee, 100 percent of which goes to humane efforts in the county. Those fees are based on the number of dogs owned.

Breeders who have 11 to 30 dogs over 1 year old and used for breeding are considered Class I. Those with more than 30 are considered Class II.

Kanawha County will charge $250 for a Class I permit and $500 for a Class II permit - the limit set by the state.

Deputy County Manager Andrew Gunnoe said the Kanawha County Planning & Development Office will conduct the permitting process, including the issuance of permits.

"They are working on the permit this week," he said. "They'll be able to take the application and start the permitting process (on Monday)."

Gunnoe said the county has only been made aware of one breeder covered by the ordinance so far.

The ordinance also sets several minimum care standards for the animals in breeding operations, which are enforceable by humane officers. Regulated breeding operations are also subject to biannual inspections by animal control or law enforcement officers.

However, the law is riddled with exemptions.

Breeders who have 10 or fewer breeding dogs aren't covered, and neither are registered greyhound breeders and those who breed dogs for herding, hunting, tracking or for participation in dog shows or other performance events.

County officials have said the exemptions watered down the law, and the 10-dog threshold means most breeders aren't covered.

"The threshold is high enough that it ends up excluding a lot of the smaller breeders," Gunnoe said.

Before the state allowed counties to regulate dog breeders, there was little to no regulation in place, which is why the county has little idea how many operations will be affected.

Regardless, humane officials have supported enacting the ordinance.

Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea Staley attended several of the public hearings on the county's ordinance last fall, and voiced strong support for it.

"The shelter is hugely supportive of the ordinance," she said Tuesday.

Staley said she also doesn't expect there to be many breeders covered, but said the law gives the shelter some ground to combat puppy mills.

Fees for permits will be put into a separate account and will be remitted to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association.

Breeders affected by the ordinance should call the county planning and development office at 304-357-0570.


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