Animal shelters and rescues are important to the communities they serve. Animals come to you for care and shelter until they find a forever home. Some come from other shelters, caregivers abandon some, and others show up with little or no history of their life to date. Every animal is a priority in your daily activities. But, sometimes caring for animals is risky. In those moments, what type of insurance you purchased is critical to you shelter or rescue’s well-being.

Insurance

Few people that enjoy shopping for insurance. It can be a long and tedious task if you don’t have an agent that fully understands what you do every day. Finding the right insurance is the first step to being able to properly care for animals in need. Most animal shelters or rescues know they need general liability insurance and directors and officers insurance. There are other insurance coverages that help protect you too. Animal care custody and control liability is often overlooked and excluded from most policies.

What is animal care custody and control liability insurance?

Animal care custody and control liability protects your animal shelter or rescue if somebody sues you for an injury or death to an animal. It is a critical coverage that you can add on through an endorsement to your liability insurance policy.

Why do I need animal care custody and control?

Some animal shelters and rescues think they don’t need this coverage because they don’t knowingly take in someone’s animal. But, animal shelters and rescues have been the victim of lawsuits and needed animal care custody and control to protect them. Here are two common scenarios where this coverage can help.

Owners change their minds.

We’ve all seen it happen. Previous owners abandon their four-legged family member and make the right decision by leaving him/her in your care. A few days pass by before they return wanting to reclaim their pet. What happens if the cat, dog, or horse get sick or run away in that short period of time. Who is responsible? If the family sues your organization, are you protected?

It depends on who the court declares as the rightful owner. In some cases, signed releases are not recognized as valid in a court of law.

Lost pets.

What happens when somebody finds a roaming animal and brings it to you? It’s not theirs and they are looking for a place they know will care for the animal until the owners can be contacted. Plenty of shelters and rescues accept these animals into their care and hope to reunite them with their family.

 

What happens if they run away or passes away in your care before the family comes to pick the animal up and return home? The family may decide to file a lawsuit and say the death or disappearance of their animal is your fault.

In both cases, general liability insurance won’t cover defense or settlement expenses unless you purchased animal care custody and control coverage. Contact your insurance agent today to add this valuable coverage to your policy. If they don’t offer it, contact an insurance agent that specializes in animal shelter and rescue insurance.

Working with animals on a daily basis requires special individuals with big hearts and a strong will. Animal shelters and rescues rely on these individuals to run smoothly and make decisions in the best interest of the animals in need. Animal rescue organizations vary in type and size. Some have a physical location and others are 100% foster-based. Some participate actively in adoption events while others rely on social media to promote adoptions. No matter the operational differences – they all require specialized liability insurance.
Foster-based Organizations
Animal rescues that are foster-based rely on volunteer foster parents to house and care for their animals. One of the most common questions we hear is,
“Does my animal rescue really need liability insurance if we don’t have a physical location?”
The answer is simple: “Absolutely!”
Why?
Many assume general liability insurance only protects organizations from slip and fall accidents at their location. While this is true – there are other protections included in liability insurance policies for nonprofit animal rescues. Here are 5 main reasons your foster-based animal rescue needs liability insurance:

  • Animal Bites.
    Liability insurance protects against damage or injury to individuals not associated with your rescue (volunteers or employees). One of the biggest risks you face is a member of the public getting bit by a dog, cat, or horse in your care. These individuals may file a lawsuit claiming your organization was negligent which led to the bite. Lawsuits involving minors can be extremely costly to an organization. Liability insurance pays to defend you and settlement costs when necessary.
  • Adoption Events.
    Many foster-based rescues rely on adoption events to introduce animals to the public and increase chances of adoption. If you attend adoption events, your organization faces many risks because you can’t control everything all the time. Animals can jump and knock individuals over, scratch, and attendees might fall and injure themselves at your booth/table. Liability Insurance pays to defend your organization and any settlement costs resulting from the lawsuit. The best liability insurance policies extend to include coverage at these events while others may charge an additional fee for each event you attend.
  • Foster Home Visits.
    Foster parents open their hearts and homes to animals in need of care. The actions of the animals are not covered under their personal homeowner’s insurance policy. To protect your organization from incidents occurring in a foster home, you need to purchase liability insurance. Liability insurance protects you in the event a potential adopter visits the home, injures themselves and files a lawsuit for damages.
  • Medical Expense.
    Each of the incidents above shares a common factor- the chance for an individual not related to your organization to become injured. Whether they choose to file a lawsuit or not – there are still medical bills that need to be paid. Liability insurance pays medical expense in these instances.
  • Adoptions Gone Wrong.
    You go to great efforts to place animals with amazing forever homes. Aggression testing, socialization, and adoption applications are necessary parts of this process. Even with these steps, adoptions sometimes go wrong. A dog may bite or show aggression in their new home causing a lawsuit to be filed against your animal rescue. The right liability insurance covers instances like these and pays to defend you and any settlement costs incurred.

These coverages are unique to animal rescues and shelters and require an insurance policy tailored to your specific needs. Contact your insurance agent today to confirm these necessary coverages are present on your policy. If you have additional questions or need more information, contact the team at Animal Welfare Organization Insurance program at 800-673-2558.

The most important service an animal shelter or rescue provides their local communities is matching animals with the perfect forever home and family. Sometimes adopting families are not readily available. And sometimes the animals need to be reintroduced to loving home and family. Both of these require time – time to find the perfect family and time for the animal to readjust to a safe and comfortable life. Animal shelters and rescues rely on foster homes to provide the animal in need with the care and environment they need.

It is important for the animal shelter or rescue to recruit caring and loving foster parents capable of providing this care. Where do you start? How do you know they will make amazing foster parents? Use this checklist to select the best foster parents.

What to do

  • Require a foster home application.
  • Conduct an in-person or over the phone interview.
  • Visit the home.
  • Require a foster agreement.
  • Conduct a background check.
  • Conduct a foster parent orientation and training.

Questions to ask

  • How long can they commit to fostering?
  • How many hours do they spend away from their home daily?
  • Where do they live?
  • What does their property consist of? Is there a yard? Is there a fence?
  • What do they think proper care consists of?
  • Are the financially able to provide for the animal?
  • How will they handle any potential trips out of town?
  • Who lives in their home? What are their ages?
  • Do they have any additional animals?
  • Do they have knowledge of proper animal care?
  • Do they have experience caring for animals?
  • Are they willing to allow potential adopters visit their home?
  • Why do they want to be a foster parent?
  • How will they handle the animal leaving after growing attached?

These are vital questions to gain a better understanding of the potential environment for the animals. You want to match the animal with a home that best suits their needs.
Recruiting great foster parents increases your long-term retention and gives more opportunity to help animals in need.

Accidents happen. Every day nonprofit animal shelter teams work to educate, provide, and raise money for animals in need in their communities and beyond. Directors in charge of these valuable animal rescue organizations know firsthand volunteers are the foundation of a nonprofit’s success. But accidents do happen – to volunteers, visitors, and foster parents. Many animal shelters utilize policies, procedures, and handbooks to minimize the risk of incidents and accidents. Do you have an accident investigation plan ready to implement when “life happens”?

Accidents
There are a variety of accidents animal shelters and rescues experience during normal daily operations:

  • Slip & falls
  • Animal scratches
  • Animal bites
  • Animals knocking down volunteers or visitors
  • Scrapes, bruises, and cuts

Each type of accident (sometimes referred to as incidents) requires a unique plan to proactively manage the outcome and take care of the injured parties.
Accident Investigation Plans
Accident investigation plans are too often overlooked as part of the plan to manage accidents. They offer nonprofit animal shelters and rescues a great deal of valuable information. You can identify 3 main items in an accident investigation:

  • What and how the accident occurred.
  • What critical decisions were made or missed?
  • What can you do to prevent in the future?

Taking the time to investigate every accident requires time – but it is time well spent if you prevent future injuries.
Step by Step

  1. Appoint a lead person to investigate.
    Select a neutral individual to lead and conduct the accident investigation. A neutral party has no outside personal ties to any of the parties involved in the accident and is not considered a witness to the accident.
  2. Provide a briefing.
    Provide them with an overview of the accident. What you know happened, where it occurred, who is involved, and what steps are being taken to provide care and treatment.
  3. Inspect the accident site.
    It is important the investigator start by inspecting the accident site. Look for signs of the accident, anything that might have caused the accident, anything that potentially impacted the decision-making process during the accident.
  4. Conduct interviews.
    Have the investigator interview those involved in the accident along with any witnesses. Document facts only and guide interviewees to leave personal opinions out of the discussion.
  5. Analyze findings.
    Review all facts and interview details to gain a 360-degree perspective of the accident. Look for changes and updates your animal shelter can make to prevent future occurrences.
  6. Make changes.
    Implement these changes by updating procedures, policies, and handbooks. Hold a mandatory volunteer training to assure each volunteer has a clear understanding of new expectations. Have each volunteer sign a statement acknowledging they understand the updates.
  7. Document.
    Documentation is vital in any incident, occurrence or accident. Document complete investigation findings in a final report along with updates and changes implemented. Include a list of all volunteers who participated in the training and include their signed acknowledgment form.

Conducting a comprehensive accident investigation seems daunting and time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be. Create a plan and procedure now on how you will investigate future accidents. Your animal shelter or rescue benefits from a better understanding of how and why decisions are made in critical moments. You can be proactive in making changes to minimize future occurrences and promote a safe volunteer work environment.

There are many factors to be considered when starting your own rescue. In fact the process can be long and pretty intense.  Here is a quick guide to help you lay out a plan and get the process moving.

1.    Determine a Mission & Vision Statement- developing a mission and vision statement will help you determine what types of equines you will accept, where they may come from, and how you will rehabilitate and adopt out.
2.    Do you have adequate land/space? Starting an Equine Rescue will require land and space. Do you own this land already? Do you need to purchase? Is it zoned appropriately?
3.    Apply for Organization Name. This filing can be completed on your department of state website.
4.    Apply for a 501c 3 Status. Filing for your nonprofit status can be completed online at irs.gov.
5.    Apply for an FEIN. This can also be completed online at irs.gov.
6.    Create a Business Plan. This plan should identify that path you plan to take to get your nonprofit developed, funded, and how you plan maintain that long term.

While this is not every step to starting your own Equine rescue, it should help with the launching of the idea and help to guide you on what questions need answered initially.

Animal welfare organizations do a great deal of good for their local communities and the animals they help.  Directors of the organizations have a lot on their schedules with volunteer recruitment, volunteer training, fundraising, and the day to day operations that they often forget to look at their insurance protection plans to verify there is adequate coverage. There are many different types of insurance coverage that are beneficial and necessary in running businesses, but what about non profit organizations, like animal shelters or rescues? Some types of insurance include directors & officers liability, general liability, accident and health, and special event insurance.

General liability insurance is one of the most common types of insurance carried by nonprofit animal shelters.  General liability insurance may provide protection for shelters and rescues in some of the following scenarios:

1.    A visitor to your shelter falls on uneven pavement and injures themselves which results in medical bills.  The medical bills would be paid for by your liability insurance.

2.    A family interested in adopting a dog or cat this is located at a foster home, visits the home and their child falls down the steps injuring themselves.  Coverage under the foster home’s homeowner policy is typically excluded because the visitor was there on business.  A general liability policy would provide coverage for the bills associated with it.

3.    Your organization sets up at local events promoting adoption of your animals. While you are there, one of the dogs jumps up and knocks an individual over causing injury.  A general liability policy would provide coverage for the medical bills as well as defense costs and settlement costs in the event a lawsuit is filed.

By choosing to not carry general liability insurance, your animal shelter is at risk for being sued for any one of the above type events. If you have no insurance in these instances, the shelter or rescue could be forced to close its doors and all of the hard work you and your volunteers have invested will be gone.

There are many different types of insurance that would benefit an animal shelter or rescue. It is most important that the individual shopping for insurance is honest with the insurance agent about all the daily happenings, services, and events being provided and attended by the organization.  Your agent will be able to help guide you in determining what your best insurance options are for complete coverage.

Disasters can happen at anytime anywhere. Disasters can range from major earthquakes, flooding, and fires to storms such as tornadoes, hurricanes and ice storms. Having a disaster plan in place at your local animal shelter is extremely important. It helps protect the animals and your staff in the event a disaster occurs. If you do not have one, it is time to sit down with everyone who works at your local animal shelter and come up with one. If your unsure of what the disaster plan should include the tips below will help, you begin creating a plan now.
1. Evacuation Location: In the event a horrible disaster occurs that involves an evacuation, you should have a second location you can safely bring the animals and staff. The second location should be spacious, safe and bring the necessary tools and equipment to take care of the animals such as food, water, crates, blankets, first aid animal’s kits and necessary medicines to treat animals that need particular care. It’s also wise to figure out how your going to transport all the animals safely to the second location if need.
2. Fire Escape Plan: Fires can happen at anytime anywhere. If one breaks out in your shelter have a plan that involves getting all the animals and staff out safely through exits. This includes making sure the exits to the shelter are free and clear from boxes and any other objects that might be in the way. It’s also important to have fire extinguishers placed in easy to access location throughout the shelter and ideas on where to place the animals that have been evacuated from the burning building in the event of a fire.
3. List of Emergency Volunteers: In the event of any kind of disaster that requires extra sets of hands for helping, it is wise to have a list of volunteers that would be able to help the shelter out in the event of an emergency situation. Having volunteers can help make handing a disastrous situation easier as well as the recovery process.
4. Back up Generator: During cold winter months, snow and ice storms can knock the power out. This leaves the animals in the shelter without heat to keep warm. It’s essential to have a back up generator to keep heat flowing through the building in the even the power does go out so the animals stay warm and healthy.

Your business provides you and your love ones with the income you need to support every day life essentials. Being a strong leader at work is necessary in order for that business to thrive. After all, you want your employees to love who they are working for and provide the best service and care to your business so it can expand and succeed.

Five Tips on Being a Better Leader

1. Structure Leaders must provide structure by creating a plan that keeps the business working properly and the employees working together. This means creating a schedule that works best for you and your employees. Sitting down for a meeting each week with your employees and coming up with a work schedule together ensures everyone has the opportunity to choose the hours and days they wish to put in so when they do come to work they can work more effectively.

2. Compassion Having compassion for your employees goes along way to being a strong leader. Compassion shows that you are human just like your employees and that mistakes happen and emergencies come up that can easily be understood and handled properly. However, this doesn’t mean being a doormat and excusing a particular employee for calling out of work constantly or coming into to work late. When this occurs warnings need to be given and consequences need to occur. This ensures that the company has function so it can run properly.

3. Stay Calm When mishaps happen in the work place as a leader it is important to stay calm, think things through and handle the situation that came up in a manner that does not add more chaos. Remember, chaos only causes more problems and makes matters worse.

4. Respectfulness Having respect for each individual working for you is essential for gaining respect back and having a team of employees that is willing to work with you.

5. Listen To be a strong leader you must listen to your employees concerns and thoughts. Then you must address them in away that is beneficial to all of you and your business. After all, listening to each other is apart of teamwork and teamwork is needed in a business to thrive and grow.

Owning a dog comes with important responsibilities such as training for behavioral purposes, grooming care, properly feeding your friend a well-balanced diet and making sure it gets lots of tender love and care. However, most pet owners do not think about the responsibility of having dog bite liability insurance. It is important to have for a handful of reasons.
#1 Coverage of Dog Bite Damage: In the event, your dog bites someone accidentally or on purpose, the cost of damage and injury to the victim is coverage. This is good for you because you do not have to pay any out of pocket expenses when your dog attacks someone, which usually can be extremely costly.
#2 Live Where You Choose: Some states have local laws that require dog owners to have liability insure for certain breeds of dogs. If you have one of those breeds without the insurance and want to move to a certain state that does not allow certain breeds without it, you can be prevented from moving to the area you wish with your four-legged pal. Even some apartment buildings, rental homes and condos require this type of insurance in order to rent out a place for your and your pal to live happily. Without the coverage, it raises a red flag to the rental service, which could cause your rental application to be denied. After all, rental companies like to protect themselves and other renters from unnecessary chaos and damage that could potentially harm them in anyway.
#3 Coverage for Property Damage: If your furry pup for some odd reason escapes your care for a short period, you will wish you had liability insurance for it. This is especially true if it decides to take an adventure without you to dig a hole in your neighbor’s yard or garden, or decides to chew and scratch the heck out of a stranger’s favorite yard décor piece. With liability coverage, you will not have to pay out of pocket expenses to cover the cost of that damage in the event your dog is reported. We all know our dog has have their own mind and tend to make messes wherever the choice even when it is not in their own yard.
For more information on this important topic, please call AWOIP at 1-800-673-2558 or 717-630-1030 or go to are website at awoiponline.com for the dog bite liability insurance.

There are so many animals that need homes that it seems impossible to have enough animal shelters and rescue clubs. It is also hard for the ones that exist to keep operating if they do not have the funds. Nevertheless, there are options available with grants from various organizations that will help out by providing your non-profit organization a grant. There are plenty of funding that can be found for shelters trying to find homes for animals and wildlife rescues.
Bernice Barbour Foundation
This foundation was developed after an animal advocate that aimed to protect animal rights and to improve their lives. Up to $900,000 is given out each year to assist rescue groups and veterinary research institutes along with animal shelters. You can receive health and wellness assistance, veterinary medical assistance and even wildlife rehabilitation through this foundation.
Maddies Fund
This grant was named after a miniature Schnauzer who’s care givers wanted to name the foundation after her in support of her love. They aim to help senior pet adoptions and medical treatment for homeless pets in animal shelters. They strive to get the word out by the use of television ads to promote adoption, particularly for older cats and dogs as they tend to be the last adopted.
Animal Assistance Foundation
Assistance from this foundation is for non-profit organizations that provide animal care and shelter for animals needing a home. This grant will assist with paying for medical care and getting cats and dogs spayed and neutered. They provide assistance to keep shelters running so that the animals are safe and healthy.
These are just a few of the grants available for animal shelters to make sure that the homeless dogs and cats can see a brighter tomorrow in a loving home. Those funding wildlife rescues provide assistance to give these animals a second chance at life in a safe environment.