Animal Businesses Must Be PREPARED for Major Disasters—Take Action!
Whether it’s wildfires in the West, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast or tornadoes in the Midwest, the ASPCA has seen firsthand the severe toll disasters have on people and animals. Our Field Investigations and Response team is committed to ensuring communities are not only prepared before disasters, but are supported as they recover by aiding homeless animals and reuniting displaced pets with their families.
Anyone with a pet should know to be prepared if a disaster strikes. But what about animals in institutional settings? What would happen if a fire broke out at a puppy mill, or if a hurricane struck a zoo? Currently, there is no federal requirement that zoos, research facilities or commercial animal breeding facilities have emergency disaster plans.
Animals in institutions are at particular risk. Hurricane Katrina killed approximately 8,000 animals, including dogs and monkeys, at a medical school in New Orleans. That storm also caused a local aquarium to lose power, resulting in the deaths of 10,000 fish.
The Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act (H.R. 1042), legislation recently introduced in Congress by Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Peter King (R-NY), would ensure that these institutions have disaster plans. The bill would require facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act—which includes roughly 2,000 USDA-licensed puppy breeders—to create detailed response plans for protecting animals in their care during disasters and ensure that employees know the steps to take when an emergency occurs.
It’s never too early to be prepared for a disaster. Better planning could have likely saved more of those animals during Hurricane Katrina, just like better planning could save dogs currently in USDA licensed puppy mills from the ravages of a future storm.