CURRENT EVENTS WITH VFHS
Here is what VFHS is currently working on and what you may be looking for:
VFHS RESCUE CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
You may recall that VFHS began the Rescue Certification Program, not as a benchmark to membership, but rather as a way of supporting rescue groups and fostering partnerships between rescues and shelters.
We are fortunate to have some longstanding rescue groups in the state which are recognized, well organized and enjoy robust partnerships with shelters. Alternatively, rescue groups who are just starting out must struggle with setting up governance, operations, creating forms, policies and protocols which are critical to their credibility but which pulls them away from rescuing and re-homing animals. Being certified by VFHS is a worthy achievement for any rescue group, at any stage of their development and particularly for those for whom the certification could enhance their organizational credibility.
We are aware that some shelters are reluctant to release animals to rescue groups which they do not deem “legitimate”. We firmly believe that good, working partnerships between shelters and rescue groups are critical to our collective success of saving lives and we would suggest that a VFHS certified rescue can be trusted by any shelter in the Commonwealth.
The VFHS Certification program is not required to be a member of VFHS, but it is free to VFHS Members. The certification period is a 2-year certification. The process does require minimum compliance with state code although we evaluate other components of rescue operations. The approach is not to fail rescues, but to help give them the tools to succeed. We provide guidelines as well as sample policies and forms. If we note areas of weakness, we help you with it or provide resources to help. We proudly publish the organizations who are certified on our website so that shelters and ACO’s around the state can verify their certification. The goal is that these certified rescues are able to go anywhere in the state to pull animals without having to complete forms and submit documents since a VFHS certification is assurance that those have already been verified. Information about the program and the documents are on our website atwww.vfhs.org under programs and services.
We have a wonderful team of trained volunteers who make this program work and they will travel to the rescue group for the field visit so we make it as easy as possible to be a VFHS Certified Rescue. I hope you will help us spread the word about this wonderful initiative!
We received the below details today regarding Wednesday’s meeting in Richmond. The meeting is open to the public and I hope to see many of you there!
Dear Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Working Group Members,
The next meeting of the Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Working Group will be held this Wednesday, October 30, at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will again be held in House Room 3 of the Virginia State Capitol. A map of public parking options in downtown Richmond can be viewed at http://www.ridefinders.com/FrontEnd/HTML/WSI/images/downtown%20commuter%20guide%20update.pdf.
The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss both long- and short-term strategies to achieve our goal of having every companion animal in the Commonwealth under responsible ownership that protects and promotes animal welfare, public health, and environmental stewardship-with the cat being the primary focus of this discussion. We will also revisit the nuisance companion animal issue.
The Conprehensive Animal Care Laws Workgroup met at a much publicized, 6 hour meeting on TNR and feral cats in Richmond on September 5th. It was a long meeting which did not result in recommended code changes to legitimize TNR – which we would have liked. That said, a unanimous vote on the long term ideal for companion animals in the Commonwealth, and the declaration by Dr Dan Kovich of the State Vet’s office that TNR is here to stay, gave us hope that the workgroup can generate positive change for the animals going forward.
We were fortunate to have Peter Wolf with Best Friends and Will Gomaa with Alley Cat Allies as our experts on feral cats and TNR at the meeting.
The day began with Workgroup Members and Guests-of-the-Workgroup delivering opening presentations and comments – those in opposition to TNR offered studies and experiential evidence against TNR. Those in support of TNR rebutted the opposition’s studies, offered studies and experiential evidence supporting TNR and examples of codes from other states where TNR is codified.
There were two public comment periods during which the pro-TNR speakers outweighed TNR opponents.
The facilitator, Dr Dan Kovich, challenged the workgroup to come up with an agreed-upon vision for feral/free-roaming/community cats in Virginia and, to that end, proposed the following: "Every cat in the Commonwealth will be under responsible ownership." Feral cat advocates voiced legitimate concerns that “ownership” implies duties that may not be applicable to ferals/TNR and they favored “care” as the standard, rather than ownership. They also observed that a very quick way to reach such a goal would be to exterminate un-owned cats. Dr Kovich urged that he did not believe the workgroup would embrace any such strategy to reach that goal; rather, the statement was intended as a long term view of our highest hope for cats. Dr Kovich declared a 10 minute break for folks to clear their heads, think their positions through, etc. Upon reconvening, the newly stated ideal was "Every companion animal in the Commonwealth will be under responsible ownership." Discussion ensued and, ultimately, this goal was unanimously approved by Workgroup Members.
Dr Kovich concluded the meeting with the declaration that TNR is part of our culture, it is happening in Virginia right now and he did not see it going away. The Workgroup’s assignment going forward is to work out the ‘how’ of implementation of TNR.
The next meeting of the workgroup will be held on October 30th from 10:00 am til 3:00 pm at the Virginia State Capitol.
Thanks to everyone who supported our goals to have policies which protect feral cats and their caregivers. Your emails and presence do make a difference!