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Week Three:
September 14, 1998 - September 18, 1998

Legal Considerations in Rescue


Day Three - Part One

Subject: Re: CLASS:Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 07:20:05 -0400
From: Doug Crowne - dcrowne@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA

On Thu, 17 Sep 1998, Judy Marion wrote:
puppy will be sitting in a house alone for approximately 9 or 10 hours. All other issues for adoption as far as requirements are fine, such as basic requirements (according to breed) vet checked out as a good reference,

My ploy has been simply to state that I do not have a dog suited to the people's home. (+/- I will let them know if I do get a dog who would "fit.") Is that not good enough?

Sandy/LadyKin OES


Subject: Re: CLASS:Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 09:20:38 -0400
From: Judy Marion - iluvdogs@HUSKYNET.COM

I would think that if a rescue does deny someone a dog that there is a good reason. Lets face it, we all want them to get good homes but if the situation is not something we feel comfortable with, we should be able to say NO with out the fear of being sued.

Judy NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League, Inc/MD,DC,VA
http://waikaloa.huskynet.com/rottirescue/rescue.htm


Subject: CLASS:Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 07:40:07 -0700
From: Ceci Giacoma - rtca@JUNO.COM

Judy wrote:
I have a situation that is not covered on paper but I would like to throw this out to the class. This has happened several times. Someone wants a puppy that works full time and will not be able to housebreak it and the puppy will be sitting in a house alone for approximately 9 or 10 hours. All other issues for adoption as far as requirements are fine, such as basic requirements (according to breed) vet checked out as a good reference, etc. Yet you know that the poor puppy will be sitting alone, crying, maybe in a crate in waste so you want to turn the applicant down. Now I will not put any tiny puppy in that kind of situation and I feel it is inhumane.

So, can the applicant sue you for that? Again, this is just my own situation and does not reflect what anyone else may think or do in the same situation.

We tell these people: "I'm sorry, we can't place a dog in a home where it will be alone all day, everyday, it makes the dog crazy and leads to your property being destroyed because the dog has separation anxiety. This is the number 1 reason dogs are relinquished to rescue, in fact, so we have a policy against it." Then, we recommend they consider getting two dogs, so there is a companionship situation. Sometimes they get huffy, but most often they appreciate the free advice.

C.Giacoma
American Rat Terrier Rescue
ARTRA@juno.com


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:01:30 -0400
From: Dale Green Young - precious@SHORE.NET

If none of my volunteers will go to blocks 2, 4 & 8, then I can't get a home visit done. And no one can prove that I can, and no one can force me to go there. I have been pulled over by police in my car for "being a white girl in a black neighborhood." And that's what the officer told me. Then he told me i'd really be safer if I left. Honest to God. No dog went there.


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 10:58:21 -0700
From: Vernon F Richardson - microphone@JUNO.COM

Dale Green Young writes:
If I don't like theneighborhood, I turn them down because I am "unable to obtain home visit."

I think that you are asking for trouble if can be proven that your group is systematicly omiting groups based on race or ethnicity. For instance, in Metro NYC, the quality of neighborhoods can change block to block. It would be difficult explaining how you did a site visit on block 2,3,6,7 and 10 in atown but was "unaable ti obtain a home visit in blocks 4,5,8,and 9.

That doesn't mean that they won't let me in, it means that I can't get a volunteer to go to their house - the same reason that I'd give someone who applied from out of my adoption area (I'm in MA and often get applicants from Utah and Colorado. I can't do a home check)

This excuse could be seen as similar to an restaurantuer saying that he doesn't discriminate however that he can't find waiters who are willing "visit" a table that is being used by a certain "type" of person. Domino Pizza ran into this a few years ago when they started ignoring a few high crime public housing facilities.

Vernon Richardson
Jersey City, NJ
microphone@juno.com


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 15:04:33 -0700
From: Vernon F Richardson - microphone@JUNO.COM

If none of your volunteers will go to a neighborhood regardless of reasons, no one can force you. However what caan happen is you can be sued or fined. You will have to explain why is it that can visit Steve on block 5 and Harold on Block 2 but cannot visit the blocks in between where Leroy and Jesus. When you can't gotcha! You claim to be a service provider. You can NOT descriminate in providind said service. You are asking for trouble.


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 14:26:15 -0400
From: Dale Green Young - precious@SHORE.NET

It wasnt intended to be race related. There are some areas that I won't go to becaue I'm afraid to go there - and it doesn't matter what race or religeon the people are. In this particular instance, it was race related. The police told me I wasn't safe being there. I left. I couldn't do a home check. I was afraid.

and quite frankly, they can sue my pants off for not doing the home check if they want (but they didn't) - I will not jeopardize the safety of my volunteers or my dogs if the police tell me it's not a safe neighborhood.

If the neighborhood isn't safe, I don't want to be placing ROTTWEILERS there.


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 11:41:10 -0700
From: Vernon F Richardson - microphone@JUNO.COM

Nancy, here's a couple of points:

You reaally can NOT compare a pet to real estate as the latter goes beyond being simple property. Your rental property is covered under the fair housing act. It's perfectly you as a owner to not sell your sofa to me for whatever reason you want. (Actually if this is a two family house and you occupy one of the apts, then the law gives you free reign to discriminate on ANY grounds.

Further, a prospective rescue family would have no case if you turned them down because they had two unspayed/nuetered pets in the house IF you turned down ALL prospective rescue families who fell in the same category. However if you started turning away a 70 year old women who wanted a mastiff or a young man who wanted a toy dog because you did not think that the dog was "right" for him, that is different. I would suggest all rescue group cease with the "I just didn't have a good feeling about them" line anyway. I sounds like a cop out for doing the real homework.

I'm also curious as to how you tell people that you don't think they are eligible for a dog, especially when it's not for a major reason?

What the trouble with simply saying " We do not place pets in homes with doggy doors" or "Our policy is that we not plaace our dogs in unspayed/unneutered households."

Have you ever had anyone threaten you or get physically violent? I can't imagine that people would take it very well.

If you are straaight forward and credible, I don't see a problem. If I smoke in the theatre, I am asked to leave. That's policy. THe same is true here. Although if you are going to be vague (i.e. I'm sorry sorry Sir, but we can not place the dog in your home beacuse I just don't have a good feeling about you.") you are asking for trouble and perhaps a law suit.

Vernon Richardson
Jersey City, NJ
microphone@juno.com


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:34:33 -0700
From: Sheila Dunn - mountain@TELEVAR.COM

On Fri, 18 Sep 1998, Vernon F Richardson wrote:
And using as an excuse the fact that the ignorant officer said what he said is no excuse. It seems more like a cop out.

Dale Green Young wrote:
could be but I wasn't willing to die, get robbed or raped finding out.

Fear is a feeling that should be listened to for some areas. Having been raised in what is rightfully called "an unsafe neighborhood" it is generally this way due to economics, rather than race. We will not place rescued dogs in these circumstances, as we feel the limited funds many of these families have should be used for their own survival and in our opinion they really don't need the extra expense of a rescued animal. Many of these families cannot afford the extra care a pet requires.

A friend of mine who still lives in that area of Los Angeles where I was raised, does rescue and she is working closely with the LAPD with not placing larger dogs, into these more economically chanllenged areas that could be trained and used in crimes.

Now living in Oregon, we still follow these same rules, as there are many folks in these mountains who can hardly afford to feed themselves and their families, let alone a pet. If you think crime is lower here in the mountain, than in some big cities, that's not actually true. It's just easier to hide in the mountains.

Sheila ~~ mountain@televar.com ICQ #4858537
Help Raise Funds for Rescue = http://www.rainyday.net/dd/catalog/
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."


Subject: CLASS: Legal Issues w/ Saying "NO"
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 16:14:21 -0500
From: LSM - iggys@BELLSOUTH.NET

I don't blame Dale a bit. It is never a mistake to trust your instincts. It sounds like there were a lot of reasons NOT to place a dog with this applicant. Seems to me there would be a greater risk of being sued FOR knowingly placing a rotti in this kind of neighborhood if something happened.

Checking the references on the application, especially the vet reference, could provide enough information on its own to legitimately refuse a placement. There's no such thing as a constitutional right to have one of your dogs. That's an entitlement we haven't quite gotten to yet.

The importance of the economic situation probably varies somewhat according to the breed and the health of the dog. It is just not prudent to place an animal into a home that probably can't maintain it, whether you're talking about food for a big breed or vet care for a special needs dog. A family who can't feed their children can't afford to feed a dog. That's just reality. With my breed the issue isn't how much it costs to feed them but how expensive orthopedic surgery can be. A veterinary journal recently reported that when a vet bill reaches $572.00 most people seriously consider euthanizing.

For the good of the animals, we cannot abandon all common sense or stay in denial about the reality of the world we live in and expect to have successful outcomes.

Shannon McClure
Res Ipsa IGs
Memphis
iggys@bellsouth.net



Subject: CLASS: Incorporation
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 10:55:59 -0400
From: hhe - hhe@UCS.NET

Ruth:

You will have to comply with your State requirements for incorporation. Its hard to say that you are not acting as an individual while wanting to be the only member of your corporation. :) Besides meeting the requirements for the initial incorporation if your not-for-profit is not going to adhere to the rules of business for that corporation you might as well not bother. Your incorporated status will not protect you if you do not act properly as a corporation including having the requisite number of meetings, quorum requirements for action, etc., etc., whatever the requirements may be...you must follow them if you intend to ever use that corporate structure as your shield.

Looking for pro-bono help is a great idea. Good luck.

If you do use some other group's by-laws for a guide be sure to adapt them to suit your own local needs.

What is your question re "benefit"? There is no profit distribution in not-for-profit corps. You can pay salaries to employees, pay operating expenses, vet bills, etc., but you do not withdraw profits.

Helena


Subject: CLASS: Any topics for discussion
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 11:36:43 -0400
From: hhe - hhe@UCS.NET

Does anyone have any questions, specific or general or any topics they care to discuss with the group??

Helena


Subject: Re: CLASS: Any topics for discussion
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:38:41 -0400
From: R&J Wilson - j.r.wilson@mindspring.com

how about ................" How do you go about getting started into rescue"?

I have been trying to get into large breed rescue, mastiff, danes, newfs, pyrs and cant seem to get my first dog. I guess this is good, maybe there are none out there at this time. What can I do in the meantime? I live in GA.

Thanks
Jo
j.r.wilson@mindspring.com


Subject: Re: CLASS: Any topics for discussion Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 13:36:13 -0400 From: "Janyne M. Kizer" - jmkizer@PAGESZ.NET

On Fri, 18 Sep 1998, Dixie Davis wrote:
Does anyone have any questions, specific or general or any topics they care to discuss with the group??

I would like to learn more about fundraising. How do we go about fundraising? How can those of us who are not 501(c)3s fundraise?

...and some tips and becomeing 501(c)3 :-)

Janyne
Lab Rescue of North Carolina, Inc.
http://www.bigfoot.com/~labrescue


Subject: Re: CLASS: Any topics for discussion
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:16:38 -0500
From: Dixie Davis - dixie@FLASH.NET

Does anyone have any questions, specific or general or any topics they care to discuss with the group??

I would like to learn more about fundraising. How do we go about fundraising? How can those of us who are not 501(c)3s fundraise?


Subject: Re: CLASS: Legalities and Strays/Licensing Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 11:44:36 -0500 From: PAULA PAGE - Thumper_ACO@PRODIGY.COM

License laws require owners to keep license and rabies tags on their pets, but they're unenforcable.

What makes you think that licensing laws are unenforcable? When I'm dispatched out for an at-large dog and I locate an owner, I always give them a 10 day notice to comply with the ordinance. Failure to comply WILL result in a citation.

Paula Page
Thumper_ACO@prodigy.com
http://pages.prodigy.com/ThumpersAC/rottie.htm


Subject: CLASS, LEGAL: Protecting adopters
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 12:20:50 -0500
From: Beth Goelzer Lyons - bgl1@CORNELL.EDU

Going along with this topic of owners who try to get back their dogs after they've been adopted to someone else...

Can someone force a rescue program to identify the adopter? We have a policy of not telling the adopter who the owner was and vice versa, but I'm wondering if a court could force us to break that policy and under what circumstances. (We're not being threatened; I'm just curious for the future.)

Has anyone had this experience?

Beth Goelzer Lyons - mailto:Tavi@bcrescue.org
Tavi Border Collie Rescue
Serving New York State and beyond
Tele. 607 275-0282 (evenings)
http://www.ithaca.ny.us/Orgs/TBCR/


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Protecting adopters
Date:Fri, 18 Sep 1998 13:15:43 EDT
From: Amy Herrmann - GSLive@AOL.COM

The courts let this same situation happen with children so I'm not surprised to see it with animals. IMO, it shouldn't happen in either situation.


Subject: Re: CLASS, LEGAL: Protecting adopters
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 13:11:47 -0400
From: Judy Marion - iluvdogs@HUSKYNET.COM

I had a similar experience with this. I got a dog from a shelter and apparently they gave me the wrong dog. The dog they gave me was "owned". I didn't know of course and adopted the dog out. TEN days later, the shelter called me demanding the dog back! The dog had been abused and was now in a safe place but the owner wanted the dog back. This was the shelter's mistake and yes the dog was owned. I had a question about the TEN days. The owner was screaming lawsuit and the shelter was threatening me to give them the name and location of the new adopter. I was very confused. I called my lawyer and he said that I could be charged with being an accessary to conversion, meaning I converted someone else's property into someone else's without the original owner of the property wanting to relinquished the property. I felt it was the shelter's mistake. AND the dog had been abused. He was in a safe place. My lawyer said it is called a "replevin" action against me which is a two step process in the lower court system. I was really upset and shocked! What about the ten days inbetween? So after much arguement back and forth my lawyer advised me that perhaps it wasn't worth jeopardizing my entire rescue league over one dog. So reluctantly I called the new owner and explained this mess. She called the shelter and gave them her address and told them they were welcome to come and help her look for the dog. He was so frightened of everyone that he backed away from them and disappeared. I was off the hook and so was she and the shelter had to settle with the owner of the dog. The entire experience had me so upset I was sick. I would love to hear anyone's input that has LEGAL experience on this. I am always afraid that it could happen again someday.

Judy
NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League, Inc/MD,DC,VA
http://waikaloa.huskynet.com/rottirescue/rescue.htm


Subject: Re: CLASS: Protecting adopters
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 14:39:05 -0500
From: PAULA PAGE - Thumper_ACO@PRODIGY.COM

<<<>>>>
wanted the dog back. This was the shelter's mistake and yes the dog was owned. I had a question about the TEN days. The owner was screaming lawsuit
<<<<>>>>

While I realize you asked for legal replies, I felt these 2 incidents are important enough to share with ya'll.

  • Several years ago a young man relinquished a stray dog to the shelter. We held the dog for the 5 day holding period. Dog was adopted to this young man's mother (turns out they knew the owner as they were neighbors). The original owner sees this dog in its new home .. he sues and WINS! I didn't attend the court hearings but we (the shelter) had to do some fast talking to avoid accessory to conversion charges. In essence, the Judge also ruled that our adoption contract wasn't worth the paper it was written on .

  • During the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, animals were being picked up as strays and after the holding period they were being euthanised. Sorry for lacking in details but *someone* got a court order for animal control to stop euthanising as pets are classified as personal property, therefore the owner's rights were being violated since, in Florida, found personal property must be held for NINETY days!

Paula Page
Thumper_ACO@prodigy.com
http://pages.prodigy.com/ThumpersAC/rottie.htm


Day Three - Part Two






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