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Do animal-related nonprofit organizations have additional regulations that must be followed?

Animal Nonprofit RegulationsYes. Virginia is one of the only states to have animal shelters and rescues report to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on the disposition of animals in their possession. This is the case for every public and private organization. Every year, a report has to be given to the Department of Agriculture for each and every animal they intake, including the disposition for each animal (whether they are still there, adopted, euthanized, etc).

In addition, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a consumer protection aspect that requires all nonprofits, including rescues and shelters, to register every year in order to solicit as a non-profit organization.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s website has the forms that you need, which you can easily download. However, you should contact an animal law attorney to ensure you are not overlooking any steps and that you do everything properly.

These requirements are in addition to other regulations and laws, which can include permits, zoning, and taxes. If your organization is incorporated (which I highly suggest), you will need to file paperwork on the city, state, and federal levels.

Your animal-related nonprofit will have many deadlines and milestones to reach. First, your organization must have a business name. Be sure to check to determine whether any other organizations have the same or similar name, and plan accordingly. Once this is done, you may also want to create a nickname for your organization that it will be commonly referred to, and be sure to register the nickname as a fictitious name if necessary.

Next, you’ll have to file for your incorporation paperwork and apply for nonprofit tax exemptions on the local, state and federal level. You must file in timely manner after your organization is incorporated, so it is important to do this step sooner rather than later.

You will then need to obtain the permits and licenses necessary for your organization. This would be the right time to know what animal regulations that you would need for your geographical area.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these steps, I would suggest contacting an animal law lawyer immediately to ensure that your organization is up to code.

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