ASPCA Commends Federal Lawmakers for Introducing Bill to Protect Animals During DisastersThe PREPARED Act requires USDA-licensed facilities to develop emergency plans to protect animals during disasters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today commends U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) for introducing the Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act, to require businesses that profit off animals – such as animal dealers, research institutions, large scale commercial dog breeders, and zoos – to create well-formed contingency plans for emergencies to better protect the animals in their care during disaster situations.
“The ASPCA has witnessed firsthand how a lack of preparation for disasters can lead to dire consequences for animals left behind,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Those who hold a license under the Animal Welfare Act bear a special responsibility to plan ahead for hurricanes, fires, floods, or other disasters that may strike. We thank Representatives Titus and King for their efforts to address the needs of animals in the event of an emergency.”
“The lives of animals are too precious to leave to chance,” said Rep. Titus. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that zoos, commercial breeders, research facilities, and the like are prepared to keep their animals safe when disaster strikes. Sadly, we’ve learned that if these entities do not have a plan in place when an emergency hits, it is already too late. I’m grateful for the support of Representative King and the many animal advocacy organizations that are helping advance this important legislation.”
“For those who are responsible for the care and wellbeing of animals it is imperative that they have an emergency plan in place when a disaster strikes,” said Rep. King. “I am proud to work with Rep. Titus on this legislation to ensure the safety of animals with a completely reasonable and simple plan.”
The PREPARED Act states that facilities licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) must identify emergencies likely to occur at their location and outline specific tasks that staff should take if such events occur. They must establish a clear chain of command for employees to follow and ensure that all pertinent employees are trained on the plans kept on file with the USDA.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation Transportation Standards (PETS) Act in 2006 to require states and localities to consider the needs of people with pets and service animals during disasters, but animals in institutional settings are still at particular risk in disasters. Hurricane Katrina killed approximately 8,000 animals, including dogs and monkeys, at a medical school in New Orleans.
To help avoid future tragedies at AWA licensed facilities, the USDA finalized rulemaking in December 2012 requiring these facilities to develop contingency plans. Unfortunately, since 2013 the USDA has indefinitely delayed the implementation of this rule, putting animals in jeopardy. Without action by the USDA to implement its rulemaking, it’s critical that Congress pass legislation to help ensure that animals are protected in times of emergency.
The ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team deploys nationwide to assist in relocation, search-and-rescue, sheltering and placement of animals during disaster situations including, wildfires, tornadoes and floods. Most recently, the ASPCA responded to major hurricanes including Harvey, Irma, Maria, Michael and Florence, as well as mudslides and wildfires in California. Additionally, the ASPCA works closely with local agencies across the country to help enhance animal response capabilities through grants and training opportunities.
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.