Virginia Approves Rescue Licensing Law

Virginia Approves Rescue Licensing Law

By: Patti Strand  Date: 06/21/2002 Category: | Canine Issues | Rescue |

Virginia’s governor approved SB 260, a bill that requires registration of rescue organizations and foster homes in the state. The bill, which sets annual fees and report requirements for rescues and their foster homes, goes into effect on July 1, 2012.

The new law amends the state’s animal welfare statute. It defines a “companion animal rescue agency” as

“any person or organization that accepts more than six companion animals, or three companion animals and three unweaned litters of companion animals during a calendar year for the purpose of providing sanctuary or finding permanent adoptive homes for companion animals and that does not maintain an animal shelter for keeping animals, but rather houses the animals in a residential dwelling or uses a system of housing animals in foster homes or boarding establishments.”

Those rescue groups that do operate their own kennels do not escape oversight; the bill amends the definition of animal shelter to include any other organization “operating for the purpose of providing animals with sanctuary or for finding permanent adoptive homes for animals.”

The suggested fee is $100 per organization and $50 per foster home. The economic impact statement accompanying the bill estimates that 300 rescue groups and 1150 foster homes will register to provide just enough money to hire an administrator for the program.

  • Rescue agencies must agree to

  • abide by the state’s animal welfare laws,

  • keep detailed records on animals for five years,

  • publish their addresses and telephone numbers in a telephone directory,

  • be accessible to the public at ‘reasonable hours,’

  • ensure that their foster homes also obey state animal welfare laws,

  • remove animals from foster homes that do not comply with state animal welfare laws and report those foster homes to the authorities,

  • report a description of any animal not acquired from the owner or a legal releasing agency to the local pound within 24 hours of receiving the animal,

  • provide and update name, location, and contact information to local animal shelters,

  • send semiannual ‘assessment reports’ to the state agriculture department, and

  • send annual reports of the number of animals handled, the names of new owners, etc. to the state veterinarian and make these records available to local authorities and the public.

While rescue groups can get a license by affirming that they are in compliance with state laws, they are also subject to unannounced inspections by the state veterinarian.

Other provisions
The law also prohibits those who have been convicted of animal abuse, neglect, or abandonment from acquiring an animal from a pound, shelter, or rescue or from serving on a shelter or rescue board or as a foster home.

In addition, it sets standards for privately-operated shelters similar to the standards set for rescue groups and prohibits the operation of any shelter that violates local zoning ordinances.


This article has been edited to reflect the year (2002) SB 260 went into effect.

About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA President

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Strand |
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