U.S. Department of Agriculture officials plan to require that certain animal research facilities, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, and carriers have plans on how to care for their animals during emergencies.
A proposed rule, published June 24 by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, would mandate that facilities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act create and maintain contingency plans on how to handle animals during disasters or other emergencies, as well as train employees on how to implement those plans.
APHIS officials said in the announcement that emergency plans could help not only save the lives of animals but also protect human health from the hazards associated with animal carcasses, improve business continuity, and reassure the public that facilities are protecting animals.
Agency officials had proposed a previous version of the rule in December 2012, but, in July 2013, they stayed implementation pending further review of the rule’s potential impact on small entities. But APHIS officials believe those concerns have been alleviated by a 2018 rule that ended AWA licensing requirements for hundreds of dealers with small numbers of breeding animals and exhibitors with low overall animal populations.