Vermont’s Loophole: In 2016, the Vermont Legislature enacted a “housekeeping” measure, Act No. 149, that increased annual license fees charged to agricultural businesses in the state, such as operating a plant nursery or a small farm. The increases were to cover administrative expenses of operating the agency, but the Act also eliminated the requirement that animal shelter and rescue organizations have a certificate of registration to operate. The certificates had been issued at no cost by the Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. As intended, this decreased the agency’s administrative workload, but it also had the unintended effect of allowing diseased animals to enter the state for distribution through its shelters and rescues. This also increased the risk of disease exposure for other animals and people. The problem continues to exist today. For example, reports of animals being routinely transferred at highway service area parking lots are common; and according to news reports, dogs enter Vermont in truckloads through online sales, some run by for-profit animal shelters.
A Legislative Delay: For the 2020 legislative session, the Vermont Animal Cruelty Investigation Advisory Board issued recommendations on how to improve the oversight and execution of animal welfare responsibilities. Two objectives were highlighted: (1) establishing a mechanism for identifying those engaged in animal rescue work by re-establishing a system for identification and oversight, and (2) redefining the training requirements for a