History of Animal Rescue Regulation
Rescuing animal’s dates as far back as 1824 in Great Britain when the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was created. By 1866, this group made its way to the United States under the name of Association of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Over the years, other animal welfare organizations were formed to address the welfare of animals. Anti-cruelty regulations had been implemented in most states but there were no shelter to house these animals. Animals were considered health risk and were euthanized to combat diseases supposedly spread by stray animals. The ASPCA was the first to support the rescue of these animals. They pushed for shelters to house, feed, and give medical attention instead of killing them. It was an uphill battle until the 60’s when animal rights groups sprung up with private shelters. Some of the shelters implemented strict rules for prospective pet owners who adopted from these rescue groups but others do not regulate and are not regulated. As a result, the animals often become victims twice.
Countrywide Proposed Legislation
As recent as August 2013, in Denton County, Texas, 200 dogs were seized from a rescue group. The Denton County Sheriff’s office received complaints about animal neglect and with a warrant, raided and removed these animals. According to volunteers, this abuse and neglect has been going on for several years. These volunteers were able to get enough evidence that enabled the sheriff’s department to act. In an effort to combat the ever-growing abuse by some of these so-called rescue groups, which are often private homeowners or puppy mills, states across the country are introducing legislation to strictly regulate these groups. Opponents of these regulations fear closures of some shelter and limit their ability to get foster families thus putting animals at risk. Some regulations include but are not limited to spot inspections, mandated Veterinarian visits, and structure rules (size of enclosures). However, Ohio has been proactive on this issue since 2012 when lawmakers passed a bill that would require facility owners to register the business and submit to annual inspections. The bill also requires volunteers who transport and foster animals to register with the state and face inspection if a complaint is filed against them. These rules and regulations protect the animals as well as the people protecting them. One Texas volunteer, Tamara DeSanchez wishes there were similar regulations because she is under scrutiny because of an unregulated rescue organization called Kindness Connection.
(Full video can be viewed in the Video section of this website)
More than a year ago, Tamara was a volunteer in Arlington, Texas. Being an avid animal lover, she spent countless hours transporting and fostering cats and dogs. Recently, that all changed when she received a certified letter from the City of Arlington Animal Services requesting documentation of vaccination and spay/neuter records. If she didn’t submit this information, Tamara would face fines in accordance with city ordinances. The letter contained very little information about the animals in question so she started to make inquiries about why she received this letter. Calls to the city informed her the letter was regarding a feral cat and six newborn kittens she transported over a year ago to Kindness Connection. Tamara wasn’t affiliated with Kindness Connection. She just answered the call for transport because they had no way to pick up this cat. Arlington animal ordinances require records to be kept by rescue groups as well as their own shelter about adoption, fostering, and transportation of these animals. Kindness Connection never filed the paperwork. The Arlington Animal Shelter never followed up until September 2013. Tamara attempted to contact Kindness Connection and the phone numbers associated with this group had been disconnected. She tried getting help from the City of Arlington Animal Shelter and was met with a wall of silence. Tamara also tried to contact the Friends of Arlington Animal Services (FAAS) of which she is a member. FAAS provided her with updated contact information for Kindness Connection. Several emails, social media, and phone attempts by the city and Tamara, she was left holding the bag for these animals and she only drove them to their foster home. In spite of signing the paper on behalf of Kindness Connection, having no real affiliation with them, Tamara says, “I became liable for the animals because I was the only name listed and signed on the paperwork when I picked up the cat.” “I would advise people to volunteer but be mindful of what paperwork they are signing and read it first.” Now, with the help of an attorney, Tamara is fighting these fines. In the coming months, she will be going before a judge to plead her case.