Frankie's Furry Friends: Fighting for Adequate Shelter for Animals

By Frankie Michelle Dennison on January 26, 2016 from Frankie's Furry Friends via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Animal advocates from the state are currently at our Capitol in Charleston, working on some important legislature for companion animals. One of the most important bills they are trying to garner support for, is to redefine what is considered animal shelter. WV code 61-8-19 (c) ii currently states:  It is unlawful for any person to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, (C) Withhold; (ii) Shelter that protects from the elements of weather. You can find the entire code here: http://www.legis.state.wv.us/wvcode/
ChapterEntire.cfm?chap=61&art=8§ion=19).
 
Notice the broad definition? Under current state code, outdoor wire kennels, tarps tied up, as well as plastic boxes and even card board boxes are considered shelter. The animal advocates of WV know this is not adequate to protect from the elements. Companion animals who are made to live outside should have shelter consisting of four hard walls and a floor to protect from moisture, temperature (cold or hot), and wind.
 
I am sure you have all driven by an animal tied to a 'box' outside. In weather like this week, it is simply heartbreaking. And we wish all could be inside, but for the ones who don't have that wish granted, we need to make sure they are humanely cared for. So what can you do to help? If you are entitled to vote, then your opinion counts!  The HSUS (WV) has introduced a new bill this month and we need to contact our legislators NOW and politely request they support this bill!!  The link to find your representatives are here: http://m.action.humanesociety.
org/site/PageServer?pagename=electedOfficials.  Simply input your zip code and you can find both email and phone information for your legislators. This is a time sensitive matter as there are only a few weeks to garner the support and get the bill created and numbered. The "Outdoor Shelter Definition" bill MUST pass! Email, call, whatever you can do!! And do it ASAP. Remember be respectful because they will only want to listen to calm, informative voters. 

Be their voice!! Law enforcement cannot enforce laws that do not exist!
 
Also if you have the time – Humane Lobby Day is held at the Capital February 11. This is a day where animal advocates from all areas of WV convene to talk to our legislators face to face and voice our concerns and state which bills we approve of, to make this state better for our animals to live. We can use your voice! If interested check out information here:http://www.humanesociety.org/
about/events/humane-lobby-days.html
 
The Humane Society of Harrison County will be there with information about our organization, as well as meeting our local representatives.
 
Below is a sample email you could use with your legislators to garner support for the Animal Shelter Bill:
First, I want to thank you for your time and dedication in serving the residents of West Virginia and (insert your county). I've recently been made aware of efforts to introduce a bill that would stronger define "Outdoor Shelter" requirements for companion animals. As a lifelong animal lover, I feel strongly that clearer definitions are needed as WV Code 61-8-19 (c) ii gives the absolute minimum requirement which is not enough. I feel that the current regulations allow companion animals, most often dogs, to be left in deplorable conditions with 'shelter' that does not really qualify to be called that. Wire crates with no cover, hung up tarps, and even a cardboard box are by current definition adequate shelters, but should NOT be and are not adequate to prevent from the elements. Animal Control Officers’ and Law Enforcements’ hands are often tied because of the current unclear definitions and animals are left to suffer in harsh elements. I implore you to support the efforts of those trying to clearly define the shelter requirements and to give Animal Control and Law Enforcement Officers the power to retrieve animals that are in conditions that do not comply. Thank you so much for your time and service.
 


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