Volunteer Protection Act: How does that Impact animal rescues?

April 8, 2013

In 1997 the Federal Government corrected a bad situation in the field of the animal rescue shelter.  The passing of the Volunteer Protection Act protected volunteers with humane societies and at your local animal rescue shelter from being liable in a tort action and similar lawsuit against the society or shelter.  Before that Act was passed, you were liable to be caught up in such lawsuits if you were in an accident while volunteering your time and services to the animal rescue shelter.  It gave real meaning to the term, “no good deed goes unpunished.”  Many humane society supporters were afraid to volunteer as workers in the humane rescue effort because they might jeopardize their personal and their family’s assets if caught in the legal web of a lawsuit.

That fear need not prevent you from any volunteer works today to help our animal friends in rescue and humane operations.  The Volunteer Protection Act protects volunteers from torts and other similar lawsuits arising against the group for which you are volunteering.

Another type of lawsuit which can no longer be taken against animal shelter volunteers is one which baffles the intellect.  Even though a person has neglected or abused an animal to the point that the intervention of a humane rescue operation is initiated, occasionally the abuser will try to lodge a suit against the employees and volunteers who rescue the animal or animals in question.  The Act also protects you from that action, as well.

The animal rescue associations do not believe their volunteer numbers have been affected greatly by the passing of the 1997 Act, because the very humane nature of animal rescue volunteering attracts persons willing to shoulder the concerns.  Naturally, knowing that you as a volunteer for animal rescue services are protected by the Volunteer Protection Act is still a wonderful acknowledgement of your value as a volunteer.

It also acknowledges the value of the helpless animal you are rescuing and serving.

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