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Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump: [email protected]/ and Vice Chair Ryan Weld: [email protected]

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PETITION CLOSED

PETITION TARGET: West Virginia Legislators

UPDATE (4/3/2023): Unfortunately this bill was not picked up during this year’s legislative session. But Sen. Ryan Weld told Lady Freethinker via email that he plans to introduce the bill again during the next legislative session. “This bill is very important to me,” he wrote, “and over the next year leading up to the next legislative session I plan on discussing it with my colleagues and why it’s necessary.”  We will watch for the bill’s re-introduction and will continue to advocate for this commonsense and lifesaving bill to be swiftly passed this next time around. —Lady Freethinker Staff

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Starving, her ribs and hip bones sharply visible, and covered in urine and feces, Breeze the dog was found weighing only 36 pounds and in critical condition on the streets of Fairmont, West Virginia, with no guardian in sight.

Within 24 hours, the Marion County Humane Society (MCHS), which took over care for the sweet dog, identified Breeze’s owner, who also was keeping Breeze’s two puppies, who were infested with parasites, in a cage.

Ultimately, Breeze’s owner pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and paid a fine, along with not being allowed to own animals for five years, according to news reports.

That paltry penalty was not justice for the act of prolonged, intentional, and almost fatal cruelty. The caring animal rescuers and law enforcement who worked Breeze’s case said they wished West Virginia’s animal cruelty law would have allowed for felony charges — and if a new law passes, it will.

Senate Bill 78 would amend the existing law — which only recognizes animal “torture” as a felony — to include neglect that results in serious injury or death as a felony offense. Anyone who intentionally denies animals water, food, shelter, or medical treatment, or abandons an animal to die could be convicted of felony aggravated cruelty — carrying penalties of one to three years in prison, fines of between $1,000 to $3,000, or both.

The bill also would increase penalties for anyone who intentionally tortures or mutilates an animal, with penalties of one to five years imprisonment, fines of $1,000 to $5,000, or both.

Legislators must swiftly pass this bill to help stop more intentional and horrifying abuse.

Sign our petition urging West Virginia legislators to send a strong message to people who intentionally and severely hurt animals that cruelty will never be tolerated by quickly passing Senate Bill 78.