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USDA Announces Requirement for Contingency Plans to Protect Animals During Emergencies

Posted by Dr. Betty Goldentyer, Deputy Administrator of APHIS’ Animal Care program in Animals
Dec 02, 2021
A truck driving through a flooded street

We see the headlines about natural disasters all the time – hurricanes in the South, wildfires in the West, flooding, tornadoes, and the list goes on. But do we stop to think about how those natural disasters affect animals, especially those housed in zoos, sanctuaries, and other licensed facilities? In addition to preparing themselves and their families for various emergencies, Animal Welfare Act licensees must also consider how to protect the welfare of all of their animals when the unexpected happens.

A critical part of ensuring animal welfare is making sure facilities can continue to provide food, water, housing, protection, and appropriate veterinary care for animals during an emergency, especially if facilities are damaged or animal handlers cannot get to the facility. This means anticipating potential emergencies, planning ahead, and training staff to protect animals.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service just announced a final rule that requires regulated facilities to proactively develop contingency plans to safeguard their animals. Just like families carefully plan how they will react and respond to emergencies or disasters that affect them, this rule will ensure regulated businesses take the time and care to think ahead of their animals’ welfare and ensure it’s a priority.

Category/Topic: Animals