A few states have recently taken significant steps to regulate retail rescue and shelter operations, recognizing the health risks resulting from the importation of large numbers of pets from unknown and random sources.
Georgia just published clarifications of its existing rules that will permit it to more comprehensively license, regulate, and control the “re-homing” of animals from shelter and rescue operations in the state. As described on its website:
Persons Authorized to Obtain Animals on behalf of Licensed Animal Shelters/Rescues [includes] [a]nyone or any group that obtains Animals from a licensed Animal Shelter/Rescue with the intent of re-homing the animal is required to apply for and obtain an “Animal Shelter License” from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Licensing requirements include:
Anyone or any group that obtains animals from a licensed Animal Shelter/Rescue with the intent of re-homing the animal is required to apply for and obtain an “Animal Shelter License” from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
In order for a person to obtain animals from a County or municipal Animal shelter with the intent of re-homing that animals, they must be the corporate president, one of the corporate officers of the Licensed Rescue organization or a person that is authorized by the Rescue to obtain animals on their behalf.
To obtain animals on behalf of a licensed Animal Rescue organization the Rescue president or one of the corporate officers must certify the authorized person by presenting the Animal Shelter with an authorization letter approved by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. A template for this letter can be found at http://agr.georgia.gov/animalprotection.aspx
Out of State Rescue organizations that are obtaining animals with the intent of re-homing them must apply for a non-resident license with the Georgia Department of Agriculture Companion Animal Section. The contact number is 404-656-4914. The annual fee for a non-resident license is $400 annually. Out of State rescues must adhere to the same policy concerning the authorization of individuals that may obtain animals on their behalf. An additional requirement for non-resident Animal Rescue Organizations is to execute consent to the jurisdiction of the Courts in this State as outlined in O.C.G.A. § 4-11-6 § 4-11-6.
Rhode Island, a state that already has comprehensive regulations governing the importation of pets through rescue groups, recently adopted rules that
provide minimum standards to govern all licensed or registered animal care facilities. They will serve as standards for the construction and maintenance of such facilities, the care of animals in those facilities, as well as the criteria for inspectors to use when conducting inspections for licensure or in response to a complaint concerning their operation. They must be considered minimum standards that must be maintained.
The regulations require all regulated facilities to comply with minimum standards of care include requirements governing: record keeping, temperature, ventilation, sanitation, lighting, space, social housing, exercise, safety, transportation, and disease control.
For the most part, the regulations appear to be science-based and achievable. There are, however, a few requirements that may be impossible to strictly comply with, including:
All enclosures must be escape proof.
All enclosures must be constructed and maintained so as to prevent entry of other animals or vermin.
I have rarely seen enclosures outside of strict USDA or State animal quarantines that are 100% escape proof or bar the entry of all other animals or vermin.
Other than that, the regulations in Rhode Island will ensure that all pets housed and transported by licensed facilities are provided minimum standards of care, based on that states’ standards, and Georgia’s regulations take important first steps in controlling the largely unregulated movement of pets through retail rescue channels.