This Virginia statute outlines the requirements for private animal shelters. Included are provisions that each animal shelter must obtain a signed statement from each of its directors, operators, and staff specifying that the individual has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment. The State Veterinarian's office is responsible for inspection of the facilities to be sure the spaces for animals are adequate. The statute also describes the requirements for animal foster care homes and states the penalties for violations of this statutory section.
A. A private animal shelter may confine and dispose of animals in accordance with the provisions of subsections B through G of § 3.2-6546.
B. Each private animal shelter shall obtain a signed statement from each of its directors, operators, staff, and animal caregivers specifying that the individual has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and each shelter shall update such statement as changes occur.
C. The State Veterinarian or his representative shall inspect a private animal shelter prior to the shelter confining or disposing of animals pursuant to this section. The shelter shall meet the requirements of all laws with regard to confinement and disposition of animals before the shelter is approved to receive animals and provide a reasonable and comfortable climate appropriate for the age, species, condition, size, and type of animal.
D. A private animal shelter that confines an animal that has not been received from its owner shall, pursuant to this section, transmit a description of the animal including at least species, color, breed, size, sex, and other identification or markings and where the animal was found, and its contact information, including its name, address, and telephone number, to the public animal shelter in the county or city where the animal was found within 48 hours of the shelter receiving the animal. A shelter that confines and disposes of animals pursuant to this subsection shall be accessible to the public at reasonable hours, shall have its telephone number and address listed in a telephone directory, and shall post its contact information, including at least its name, address, and telephone number, in the public animal shelter in the locality where the shelter is located.
E. For purposes of recordkeeping, release of an animal by a private shelter to a public or private animal shelter or other releasing agency shall be considered a transfer and not an adoption. If the animal is not first sterilized, the responsibility for sterilizing the animal transfers to the receiving entity.
F. No private animal shelter shall place a companion animal in a foster home with a foster care provider unless the foster care provider has read and signed a statement specifying that he has never been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or abandonment, and the shelter shall update the statement as changes occur. The shelter shall maintain the original statement and any updates to such statement in accordance with this chapter and for at least so long as the shelter has an affiliation with the foster care provider.
G. A private animal shelter that places a companion animal in a foster home with a foster care provider shall ensure that the foster care provider complies with § 3.2-6503.
H. If a private animal shelter finds a direct and immediate threat to a companion animal placed with a foster care provider, it shall report its findings to the animal control agency in the locality where the foster care provider is located.
I. No private animal shelter shall be operated in violation of any local zoning ordinance.
J. A private animal shelter that confines and disposes of animals pursuant to this section shall be operated in accordance with this chapter. If this chapter is violated, the shelter may be assessed a civil penalty by the Board or its designee in an amount that does not exceed $1,000 per violation. Each day of the violation is a separate offense. In determining the amount of any civil penalty, the Board or its designee shall consider:
(i) the history of previous violations at the shelter; (ii) whether the violation has caused injury to, death or suffering of, an animal; and (iii) the demonstrated good faith of the shelter to achieve compliance after notification of the violation. All civil penalties assessed under this section shall be recovered in a civil action brought by the Attorney General in the name of the Commonwealth. Such civil penalties shall be paid into a special fund in the state treasury to the credit of the Department to be used in carrying out the purposes of this chapter.
K. If this chapter or any laws governing private animal shelters are violated, the Commissioner may bring an action to enjoin the violation or threatened violation of this chapter or the regulations pursuant thereto regarding private animal shelters, in the circuit court where the shelter is located. The Commissioner may request the Attorney General to bring such an action, when appropriate.
Acts 2008, c. 860, eff. Oct. 1, 2008. Amended by Acts 2014, c. 148.