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Advocates Rally at W.Va. Capitol Urging Lawmakers to Protect Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Citizens from across the Mountain State will assemble at the state capitol Thursday to meet with their lawmakers and urge them to pass legislation to protect animals. The citizen lobbyists are participating in Humane Lobby Day organized by The Humane Society of the United States and co-sponsored by the Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia and the national animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society.

"West Virginia lawmakers have the opportunity to pass much needed animal protection laws this session," said Ann Church, The HSUS' senior state director for West Virginia. "Humane Lobby Day is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to interact with their elected officials while speaking for those who can't speak for themselves."

Betty Burkett, president of FOHO WV, is pleased that so many people are willing to voice their concern to policy makers. "We have some major animal welfare problems that could and should be addressed with a change in law. It is key that citizens let legislators know that they care about the treatment of animals."

"How we treat animals in each community is reflective of how we treat one another," said Claudine Wilkins of Best Friends. "The bills before the legislature will address many of the animal cruelties that occur in the state not covered by existing West Virginia law."

Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are large-scale production facilities that mass produce puppies for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care. Last August a puppy mill in Parkersburg that housed nearly 1,000 dogs was closed down. While local humane officials were aware that there were problems at the facility, they were never able to gain access to check on the animals. The HSUS and Best Friends assisted The Humane Society of Parkersburg to find these dogs a better life. 

Lawmakers have proposed legislation to place a cap on the number of breeding dogs that can be kept at one time to help curb abuses at the largest breeding facilities. The bill would allow animal control authorities to inspect the facilities to ensure that inhumane conditions do not exist. Louisiana and Virginia passed strong puppy mill laws last year limiting the size of facilities, and this important legislation will help to curb puppy mill abuses in West Virginia.

Gas Chamber Ban

Legislation has been introduced to ban the use of the gas chamber, still being used in five counties in the state. Animal advocates nationwide have condemned this method of euthanasia as being inhumane.

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS and Best Friends, joined by state organizations such as FOHO WV, work with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit, membership organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of members and community partners across the nation. In 2009, Best Friends celebrates its 25th anniversary. On the web: bestfriends.org.