The state of
West Virginiadoes not specifically limit how many dogs a person can own—but that doesn’t mean that you’re free to keep as many pooches as you like. Each city and county might have its own local laws on the matter.
If you’re the type of dog owner who likes to keep their own pack of pups around the house, you may be wondering if there is any legal limit to the number of dogs you can have in West Virginia. As far as the state government is concerned, you can own as many as you want. Like a lot of states though, West Virginia leaves it up to local governments to place whatever restrictions they deem appropriate on dog ownership.
If you live out in a rural location, you might be able to own as many dogs as you can properly house and care for. In places with denser populations, however, there will likely be local laws limiting how many pets you can have.
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Does West Virginia have laws limiting how many dogs you can own?
While there is no statewide legislature limiting how many dogs a person can own in West Virginia, each city and county is free to make its own rules regarding the matter. In general, urban areas tend to have stricter regulations than rural areas.
In the city of
Martinsburg, for instance, individuals are allowed to own two adult dogs per household—an adult dog being any dog that is older than six months or that already has its permanent canine teeth.
The laws can vary a great deal depending on where exactly you live. So, before you rush out and start adopting dozens of dogs, remember to check your local city and county statutes. It’s also a good idea to check your lease or mortgage agreement as there may be sections addressing pet limitations in there as well.
Are there any dog breeds outlawed in West Virginia?
Breed-specific laws are another area where West Virginia leaves the decision in the hands of local governments. While most states now have laws prohibiting breed-specific legislation, each city and county in West Virginia is free to ban any breed they want to.
Regardless of the breed-specific laws in your area, however, dogs that have been deemed dangerous or vicious—meaning they have attacked and/or caused serious harm to humans or other pets without provocation—are always banned and may be confiscated or put down by humane officers.
What are the leash laws in West Virginia?
Many cities and counties in West Virginia have local laws that require dogs to be leashed when not on their owner’s property—the city of
Weirtonand Jefferson County are a couple of examples.
Once again, though, this is an issue that is not specified by any statewide law. As far as the state government is concerned, you can let your dog run free if you want to. However, state law also specifies that you are liable for any damages that your pet causes while roaming free.
In other words, you can let your dog run loose, but if they damage anything, you’ll be the one paying for it. If they attack and cause harm to a person, you’ll be landed with the medical bills and possible criminal charges as well.
Penalties for breaking dog laws in West Virginia
Most dog laws in West Virginia exist at the local level, as do the prescribed punishments for breaking those laws. Each city and country will have its own punishment for dog law violations. In general, though, the more severe the violation, and the more damage it results in, the more serious the punishment will be.
If, for instance, you’re found to be keeping more than two dogs within the city limits of Martinsburg, you’ll be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined. This fine will be no less than $100 and no more than $500 per dog, per day. Not to mention, the excess dogs will usually be seized and impounded.
If, on the other hand, you fail to abide by leash or breed laws in some place like Bluefield, and that violation leads to your dog attacking someone without provocation, then the consequences may be far more serious—you could even face criminal charges. If the animal causes significant harm or death to someone, and it can be proved that you had prior knowledge of the dog’s violent tendencies, you might end up being convicted of a felony.
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