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WV State Animal Related Laws

( State Code website link )


Chapter 7-10

Humane Officers


Chapter 19-20

Agriculture - Dogs and Cats


Chapter 19-20-13

Dog Running at large; liability of owner

Chapter 19-20-22

Confinement of Females (in Heat)


Chapter 19-20-26

Commercial Dog Breeding Operations


Chapter 19-20A

Vaccination Against Rabies


Chapter 19-20B

Spaying and Neutering of Dogs and Cats

Chapter 19-20C

Spay Neuter Assistance Program

Our shelter and Humane Officers provide animal control services for all of Wood County in accordance to State Law and contract stipulations with Wood County.


The services include:

  • Emergency help for injured stray dogs and cats, vicious dogs and cats

  • Assisting law enforcement in incidents that involve animals.

  • Investigating reports of cruelty, abuse, and neglect.

  • Stray, unlicensed dogs running loose.


Note: Our officers are not authorized by contract to capture or pick up stray cats, which is a common call for help.


While generally, the focus of their work is on domestic animals and pets, they do investigate animal cruelty and neglect of farm animals as well. There is a livestock committee assigned by the Wood County Commissioner who assists with livestock complaints. Wildlife is not included under these services and issues related to wildlife should be referred to the Department of Natural Resources.


Emergency Services

Emergency services are provided for stray animals that have been injured or are behaving in a vicious manner. Our Humane Officers provide these 24-hour emergency services for injured or vicious stray animals. If you become aware of such a situation, please use the following numbers to notify us as soon as possible.


During business hours: 304-422-5541

After hours: 860-674-5080


Animals running at large are not considered emergencies. Please contact the shelter during normal business hours and the Officers will respond to such calls as soon as possible.


What is Abuse and Neglect

Sadly, animals cannot speak for themselves and they desperately need us to speak up for them. Reporting animal neglect and abuse that you witness can be lifesaving. And while our State's laws provide little definition of what is considered abuse and neglect, as an agent for the County providing Animal Control, we investigate abuse and neglect situations almost daily. In fact, our minimal State Code states that:


"a humane officer shall take possession of any animal, including birds or wildlife in captivity, known or believed to be abandoned, neglected, deprived of necessary sustenance, shelter, medical care or reasonable protection from fatal freezing or heat exhaustion or cruelly treated"


And while inadequate to create realistic expectations as to how animals should be cared for, we have been successful in many instances of removing and rescuing many animals from horrendous conditions as well as sending some owners to jail for abuse and neglect.


What should you do if you see or suspect neglect or cruelty

First, DO NOT IGNORE IT and hope someone else will do something. Too often animals suffer because people don’t want to get involved. You are their voice. Please don't be afraid to make the call when you see it!


Document what you witness. When you make the call, tell the person taking the information as many details of the situation as you can—i.e., the location, date and time, and descriptions of the people and animals involved. Video and photographic documentation (even a cell phone photo) can help bolster your case. It's also useful to give names of others who may have witnessed the incident.


Prepare to testify. While you may wish to remain anonymous, the case will be much stronger if you are willing to identify yourself and testify to what you witnessed. Since animals cannot talk, a human witness is crucial for building a strong, prosecutable case.


How to Recognize Cruelty

While direct violence is the most obvious form of animal cruelty, animal neglect is by far the most common type of abuse to which animal control officers respond. A shocking number of animals die from neglect every year, right under the noses of the entire community. If you see an animal in distress don't assume that someone else will take care of the situation; take action!


Pay particular attention to:

  • Chained dogs are most likely to die from starvation, dehydration or hypothermia, since their confinement renders them especially vulnerable and helpless.

  • Animals without shelter in extreme heat or cold. While our State Code does not define what shelter is, there are some minimal expectations that owners should provide.

  • Clearly emaciated animals: clearly visible bones and lethargy can be a sign of an untreated, life-threatening medical condition or imminent starvation.

  • Obvious, untreated wounds or other medical conditions.

  • Too many animals living on one property. This can be a sign of animal hoarding. Dogs or cats inside abandoned homes. If you notice a neighbor has moved or has stopped coming around to a residence where animals live, you should be extra vigilant.


Obvious violence

No reasonable, conscientious person would ignore a child being beaten, hit or kicked. Neither should anyone turn a blind eye to animal abuse! If you witness overt violence against an animal or suspect it, speak up! If you don't feel comfortable directly intervening in a situation, quickly call the authorities. You can always call 911. It is especially important to involve law enforcement when violence is involved because the abuse is likely to be part of an ongoing pattern of violence that may include both animals and people. Don't delay; time is of the essence!

Abuse & neglect

Vienna, WV City Code

Article 507

Dogs and Cats 

Parkersburg, WV City Code

Article 505

Dogs and Cats 

Emergency Services
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