New State Associations
How to Start a State Animal Control Association
Animal control is a difficult profession. The public doesn't recognize us for our efforts, our cities and counties put us on the bottom of their totem poles, and critics always nitpick at us. Where can we turn for help?
Most states have already discovered the advantages of starting their own association for animal care and control workers. They meet regularly to exchange ideas, to conduct training programs and to share in professional fellowship. They discover that they're not alone. Most of these state associations belong to the National Animal Control Association enjoying the benefits that national participation can bring.
What Do State Associations Do?
Some states conduct annual training programs for animal workers through universities.
Other state associations conduct their own training programs without university affiliation.
As an individual municipal employee, you may be prohibited from engaging in legislative lobbying; but your state association can. Your voice can be heard at your state capitol through an active, ambitious state association.
What affects animal control in one state usually affects us all. State associations communicate with each other to learn about new trends, new inventions, new legal decisions, new programs, and new legislation.
Training films, videotapes, cassettes, and publications are now available. As an individual you may not be able to afford to buy them, but your state association can.
The possibilities are endless. The key to remember is this: we're all in this together, just at different stages. With a state association, you're not alone.
How Do We Start an Association?
It's really very easy. Just follow this checklist:
Schedule an organizational meeting
First, you need to get several of your fellow workers together for an organizational meeting. Hold this meeting in a centrally located city: a shelter conference room, a church meeting room, or a motel will work out fine. A few long-distance phone calls and letters will be necessary. Invite as many animal control people as you can from as many cities and counties as possible. Schedule the meeting on a day when most people are free. This may mean sacrificing a weekend but it will be worthwhile. If you're one of those many people who operate a one-person facility, you may think you can't get away. Make time. (You'll never become a two-person facility unless you do!)
Why are you organizing?
At the organizational meeting, you'll want to discuss with your fellow workers what your goals are. Training? Communications? Travel? Conventions? A lending library? Don't try to do it all at once. It will take you a while to get organized. The problems will still be here a year from now!
You'll need officers for your association. It's perfectly legal to appoint yourselves as interim directors until you can schedule a full election several months down the road. Or, if you have enough people present, you can take nominations from the floor and elect full, valid officers, usually for one-year terms. Try to pick people who are competent, "go-getters" and stable; you want people who are going to remain in animal care and control for many years to come!
Your association will need bylaws. Samples are available from NACA. Feel free to copy them or modify them to your particular needs. You'll have a lot of decisions to make: how many meetings a year, how much for dues, how many officers, length of terms of office, etc. You need to spell these things out. Bylaws are only a working tool to help your association. They can always be amended later and probably will!
Now comes the legal part. Once you have your bylaws and officers (even if they're only temporary) you'll want to incorporate. This declares your association to be a nonprofit corporation. To incorporate, simply write to the Office of the Secretary of State (c/o your state capitol) and ask for the necessary forms to incorporate as a nonprofit association. They'll send you the forms and perhaps an explanatory brochure. There will be a fee involved, but it's usually small. By the way, you don't have to incorporate. Check locally to see whether incorporation is to your advantage.
You probably won't need a lawyer to figure out the forms and file the necessary reports, but be prepared in case you do. Most states require only a simple form, listing the officers, the purposes of the association, and a copy of the bylaws. You may have to have a few documents notarized, which will cost a few dollars. Send everything back to the Secretary of State and wait. Within a month or so you should be incorporated.
At this point, we'd like to encourage your association to join the National Animal Control Association as your state's chapter. If you think statewide affiliation gives you some clout, look at what we can do nationally! There are thousands and thousands of animal care and control workers across the country. We've finally got a voice.
Joining NACA is easy, too. What we'd like from you are: a list of your officers, a list of your members including their office addresses, ZIP codes, and e-mails, a copy of your bylaws. Please include your check for NACA dues, which is currently $15.00 for each member (8/02). Your dues will be good for one year from the date they're received; thereafter, you submit renewals annually . As you renew, please update your membership list for us. Also, as you add new members throughout the year, please send us the dues for each one along with all of their contact information.
What do you get in return? Voting rights, for starters. State-affiliated NACA members are eligible to vote on any matter. All NACA members, including individual, organizational and state-affiliated NACA members are entitled to vote per the NACA bylaws. You also get NACA's help in training programs, communications, job placement and other projects. You'll also receive the NACA News magazine bimonthly, six times a year.
You also get the assurance that NACA will not interfere with your association. Your internal politics are your own. NACA won't tell you what to do. We will, however, stand by to help when your members need assistance.
Where Do I Go For More Information?
Contact NACA's Corporate Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas and names of people who can help you. Contact some of the people in neighboring states who have already organized, too. Attend training seminars and the NACA Annual Meeting to discuss ideas. Let us know how you're doing!