© 2019 New York State Bar Association


NEW YORK, NY 10019



Contact Us: [email protected] or 800-582-2452


Date: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Program: 1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. | Sutton Center, 2nd Floor | 3.5 MCLE Credits 

[This program is transitional and is suitable for all attorneys including those newly admitted.]

From Theory to Practice: The Legalities of Animal Shelter and Rescue Operations 

This program will provide attorneys working with or for animal shelters and rescues an arsenal of resources that they can use in the everyday operations of these facilities. Popular topics that will be covered include: starting a shelter or rescue not-for-profit organization; defining what a true shelter or rescue is under the law; defining and respecting the lawyer's role as volunteer, counsel, or board member for an animal shelter or rescue; liabilities and insurance needs; essential contracts and agreements every shelter and rescue should have in place; animal adoption policies and best practices; spotting animal abuse and reporting requirements; interstate and international rescues; no-kill shelters; and a variety of other relevant topics.

1:30 p.m. - 1:35 p.m.  Welcome and Introduction 

Chair: Amy M. Pontillo, Esq., Division of Professional and Court Services, Office of ADR Programs, New York, NY 

1:35 p.m. - 2:25 p.m.  Starting a Not-for-Profit Organization (1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice)

Ms. Siegel will discuss all aspects of incorporating shelter and rescue operations in NYS, including applying for tax exemption, annual filing requirements, drafting by-laws, insurance needs, and the differences between 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations.

Speaker: Judith L. Siegel, Esq., Pro Bono Partnership, White Plains, NY 

2:25 - 3:15 p.m.  Operating a Compliant Shelter or Rescue (1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice)

Mr. Fein will address the laws that apply to shelters and rescues, including what constitutes a true shelter or rescue under NYS law and the definition of a no kill shelter. He will define a lawyer’s role as volunteer, board member, and/or counsel to a shelter or rescue and why respecting each role is important. Mr. Fein will also cover the topic of animal abuse and reporting requirements as well as possession/title issues with respect to animals in custody at shelters and rescues.

Speaker: Jack Fein, J.D., M.D., Dutchess County SPCA, Hyde Park, NY 

3:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.  Break 

3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.  Essential Legal Documents & Common Challenges for Shelter and Rescue Operations (1.5 Credits in Areas of Professional Practice) 

Ms. Molbegott will review several legal documents every shelter or rescue should have in place, including adoption agreements, surrender agreements, foster agreements, volunteer agreements, as well as important releases and waivers. She will cover potential liability issues that every shelter and rescue should be aware of, even when sound legal documents are being used. Ms. Molbegott will also touch upon challenges to surrender, adoption screening, redemption of impounded animals, spay/neuter, and dog bites.

Speaker: Elinor D. Molbegott, Esq., Law Office of Elinor Molbegott, East Williston, NY 

4:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.  Questions and Answers 

Moderator: Ashlee K. Cartwright, Esq., The Salvation Army, West Nyack, NY 

Committee Chair: Amy M. Pontillo, Esq.Division of Professional and Court Services, Office of ADR Programs, New York, NY

Program Co-Chairs: Ashlee K. Cartwright, Esq., The Salvation Army, Legal Department, West Nyack, NY; Bari Wolf, Esq., Vernon & Ginsburg, LLP, New York, NY