WV Senate passes animal cruelty, harassment bills

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Serious animal abuse would become a felony in West Virginia under a bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senators voted 31-2 to approve the proposal and send it to the House of Delegates. There was no debate.

The measure, sponsored by Brooke County Republican Sen. Ryan Weld, would create an charge of aggravated cruelty to animals for seriously hurting or withholding food, shelter or medical treatment from an animal. It also adds a crime publishable by up to five years in prison for torturing or mutilating an animal.

In other action, the chamber approved a bill that would update the state’s harassment statute to include penalties for harassing a person with the intent to cause suicide. The proposal also includes a felony charge with up to five years in prison for violating a protective order related to stalking or harassment.

The measure, also sponsored by Weld, passed 33-0 without debate and now moves to the House.

Lawmakers have had a relatively quiet first few weeks of their 2020 session, largely without legislative controversy as they’ve convened quick meetings in the House and Senate between committees.

Last week, the House approved a measure to create a new crime of giving someone a drug that kills them and unanimously passed a bill to make suffocation and asphyxiation crimes punishable by up to five years in prison.

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Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.