Researchers, dealers, exhibitors need disaster plans

Published on January 30, 2013
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Animal dealers, researchers, exhibitors, and others licensed and registered under the Animal Welfare Act will need to have plans to protect their animals during disasters.

Authorities in the Department of Agriculture want to make sure such animal holders know what they will do during emergencies. The written emergency plans need to be in place by July 29, and all employees of the registered facilities need to be trained in the specifics of the plans by Sept. 27.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a December 2012 announcement that many registered facilities have had inadequate contingency plans, as shown during the 2005 hurricane season, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

A Dec. 31 Federal Register notice states that each contingency plan will need to identify likely emergencies ranging from electrical outages to natural disasters; describe tasks to be performed during emergencies, such as evacuating animals and providing backup sources of food, water, shelter, and veterinary care; identify who is responsible for the tasks; and describe what materials, resources, and training are needed for response and recovery.

APHIS officials will not make affected animal owners submit their plans because processing, reviewing, and storing plans for more than 10,000 license and registration holders would require “enormous” resources, according to the Federal Register notice. Instead, the agency wants facilities, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, and carriers to review their own contingency plans at least once annually and document the reviews.

APHIS inspectors must be able to examine the contingency plans, annual review documentation, and training records.