Whippet Rescue in Virginia
In June 2003 an amendment to the animal welfare laws in Virginia went into effect. The amendment was put forward by the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and was supported by the multimillion-dollar animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The amendment makes it impossible for national rescue organizations to operate in Virginia and know for certain that they are obeying the law. Although some national rescue organizations continue to operate in Virginia, Whippet Rescue And Placement (WRAP) has withdrawn rather than risk prosecution for operating illegally. Details about the law
So what is the status of whippet rescue in Virginia now? Four individuals rescue and place whippets in Virginia independently. They are all former members of WRAP and their guidelines for rescue and placement are identical to those of the organization. When someone in Virginia contacts WRAP about a whippet in need of rescue, the Regional Advisor contacts one of those independent rescuers.
If you need help for a whippet in Virginia or you are interested in providing a home for one, contact the rescuer closest to you:
(434) 946-7928 (Home)
(434) 984-9722 (day)
(434) 242-6113 (Evening)
Robert Elam (Transport Only)
Hanover County (North of Richmond)
Pam Parent (Transport Only)
Midlothian (Richmond area)
Smithfield (Virginia Beach/Norfolk area)
The law that prevents many national rescues from operating in Virginia is at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?031+ful+CHAP1007
"Home-based rescue" is defined as "any person or organization that accepts (i) more than 12 companion animals or (ii) more than nine companion animals and more than three unweaned litters of companion animals in a calendar year for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for the companion animals and houses the companion animals in a private residential dwelling or uses a system of housing companion animals in private residential foster homes."
Since it says "person or organization," if WRAP officially operates in Virginia, the law would apply to the organization, as it definitely rescues more than 12 dogs a year. The law does not apply to the individual rescuers here because none of them takes in 12 animals a year individually. So the rescuers withdrew from WRAP and WRAP withdrew from the state. Why?
Taken as written, the law requires that every member of the organization (more than 100 people all over the United States) read and sign a statement specifying that he or she has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment; these statements must be kept updated by WRAP. The statement must also be signed by anyone to whom WRAP transfers a dog. The organization must keep detailed records of each dog received for two years and submit a summary to the Virginia State Veterinarian annually on a form provided by the state.
These records also must be "made available upon request to the department, animal control officers, and law-enforcement officers at mutually agreeable times." Since WRAP's records are maintained by the Regional Advisor in another state, this would be problematical at best.
The membership of WRAP changes frequently -- rescuers leave and rescuers join. To collect signed statements from all these people and keep them updated, on top of ensuring that proper records of dogs are being kept in the format that one state requires is too much to ask of a volunteer organization that is already stretched to the limit. This may not seem unreasonable until you consider the amount of paperwork it requires a volunteer organization to maintain for one state. There are 49 other states to consider, and due to the intervention of the Humane Society of the United States, many of them are busy coming up with their own bills. Some have already been passed.
Dog rescue is a public service provided by people who contribute their own time and money. Laws protecting rescued dogs are already in place through animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws...rescuers are covered under them just as any other dog owner is. Laws of this type are damaging and will eventually either force rescuers "underground" or end the practice of pet rescue altogether. The laws are promoted as "making rescuers accountable" and "ensuring standards of care." Rescuers are covered under the same animal welfare laws as other dog owners and these laws do nothing other than make it more difficult to rescue. If this type law is proposed in your state, please contact your legislators and speak out against it!
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