West Virginia State Service Dog Laws

The full text of West Virginia law can be found here. Please expand the sections below to read about the laws pertaining to Service Animals in West Virginia.

For the purpose of this article:

(a) A “person who is blind” means a person whose central visual acuity does not exceed twenty/two hundred in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose visual acuity is greater than twenty/two hundred but is occasioned by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than twenty degrees.

(b) A “person with a disability” means any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual; who has a record of such an impairment or who is regarded as having such an impairment.

(c) A “service animal” means any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.

(a) A person who is blind or is a person with a disability shall have the same rights as other persons to the full and free use of the highways, roads, streets, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities and other public places.

(b) Any person who is blind and any person with a disability is entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, streetcars, boats or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, restaurants, professional offices for health or legal services, hospitals, other places of public accommodation, amusement or resort, and other places, including places of employment, to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.

(c) Every person who is blind, every person with a hearing impairment and every person with a disability shall have the right to be accompanied by a service animal in any of the places, accommodations or conveyances specified in subsection (b) of this section without being required to pay an extra charge for the admission of the service animal. The person who is blind, deaf or has a disability shall be liable for any damage done by the service animal to the premises or facilities or to persons using such premises or facilities: Provided, That the person who is blind, deaf or has a disability shall not be liable for any damage done by the service animal to any person or the property of a person who has contributed to or caused the service animal’s behavior by inciting or provoking such behavior. A service animal shall not occupy a seat in any public conveyance and shall be upon a leash while using the facilities of a common carrier.

(d) The rights, privileges and responsibilities provided by this section also apply to any person who is certified as a trainer of a service animal while he or she is engaged in the training.

(e) A service animal as defined by section three of this article is not required to be licensed or certified by a state or local government, nor shall there be any requirement for the specific signage or labeling of a service animal.

(a) A person who is blind or who has a disability shall exercise that degree of care for his or her own safety in any of the places, accommodations or conveyances specified in section four of this article which an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances.

(b) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian who is blind or who has a disability and who knows, or in the exercise of reasonable care should know, that the pedestrian is blind because the pedestrian is carrying a cane predominantly white or metallic in color, with or without a red tip, or is using a service animal or otherwise, shall exercise care commensurate with the situation to avoid injuring the pedestrian or the service animal.

Any person, firm or corporation, or the agent of any person, firm or corporation, who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the places, accommodations or conveyances specified in section four of this article or otherwise interferes with the rights of a person who is blind or visually impaired or a person with a disability under the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined an amount not to exceed fifty dollars.
It shall be the duty of the county assessor and his or her deputies of each county within this state, at the time they are making assessment of the personal property within such county, to assess and collect a head tax of three dollars on each dog, male or female;  and in addition to the above, the assessor and his or her deputies shall have the further duty of collecting any such head tax on dogs as may be levied by the ordinances of each and every municipality within the county.  However, no head tax may be levied against any guide or support dog especially trained for the purpose of serving as a guide, leader, listener or support for a blind person, deaf person or a person who is physically or mentally disabled because of any neurological, muscular, skeletal or psychological disorder that causes weakness or inability to perform any function.  Guide or support dogs must be registered as provided by this section.  In the event that the owner, keeper or person having in his or her possession or allowing to remain on any premises under his or her control any dog above the age of six months, shall refuse or fail to pay such tax, when the same is assessed or within fifteen days thereafter, to the assessor or deputy assessor, then such assessor or deputy assessor shall certify such tax to the county dog warden;  if there be no county dog warden he or she shall certify such tax to the county sheriff, who shall take charge of the dog for which the tax is delinquent and impound the same for a period of fifteen days, for which service he or she shall be allowed a fee of one dollar and fifty cents to be charged against such delinquent taxpayer in addition to the taxes herein provided for.  In case the tax and impounding charge herein provided for shall not have been paid within the period of fifteen days, then the sheriff may sell the impounded dog and deduct the impounding charge and the delinquent tax from the amount received therefor, and return the balance, if any, to the delinquent taxpayer.  Should the sheriff fail to sell the dog so impounded within the time specified herein, he or she shall kill such dog and dispose of its body.

At the same time as the head tax is assessed, the assessor and his or her deputies shall, on the forms prescribed under section four of this article, take down the age, sex, color, character of hair (long or short) and breed (if known) and the name and address of the owner, keeper or harborer thereof.  When the head tax, and extra charges, if any, are paid, the officer to whom payment is made shall issue a certificate of registration and a registration tag for such dog.

In addition to the assessment and registration above provided for, whenever a dog either is acquired or becomes six months of age after the assessment of the personal property of the owner, keeper or harborer thereof, the said owner, keeper or harborer of said dog shall, within ten days after the acquisition or maturation, register the said dog with the assessor, and pay the head tax thereon unless the prior owner, keeper or harborer paid the head tax.

All certificates of registration and registration tags issued pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be issued for the fiscal year and shall be valid from the date on which issued until the thirtieth day of June of that fiscal year, or until reissued by the assessor or his or her deputy in the regular performance of his or her duties, but in no case shall previous registration tags be valid after September thirtieth of the next ensuing fiscal year.

The assessor collecting the head tax on dogs shall be allowed a commission of ten percent upon all such taxes collected by him or her, and shall turn in to the county treasury ninety percent of such taxes so collected, as are levied by this section;  and the assessor shall turn over to the treasurer or other proper officer of each and every municipality within the county ninety percent of such taxes levied by the ordinances of such municipality.  All such dog taxes, except those belonging to municipalities, shall be accredited to the dog and kennel fund provided for in section ten of this article.  Such dog taxes as are collected for and turned over to municipalities shall be deposited by the proper officer of such municipalities to such fund and shall be expended in such manner as the law of such municipality may provide.  All taxes on dogs not collected by the assessor shall be collected by the regular tax collecting officer of the county and placed to the credit of the dog and kennel fund.