Animal Welfare Act Contingency Regulation: APHIS published a final rule requiring all dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, carriers, research facilities and other entities regulated by the Agency under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to take additional steps to be better prepared for potential disaster situations. They are required to develop a plan for how they are going to respond to and recover from emergencies most likely to happen to their facility, as well as train their employees on those plans. These emergency plans are also referred to as “contingency plans.” The goal of this rule is to increase the regulated community’s awareness and understanding about their responsibilities to protect their animals in emergency situations. Developing contingency plans could potentially save the lives of their animals – and their employees – during an emergency or natural disaster. It will also allow each USDA licensee and registrant to evaluate their preparedness and to more fully understand how they can better survive a disaster or emergency situation.
Effective July 31, 2013, USDA issued a stay of the Animal Welfare Act Contingency Plan Regulation. This means that, until further notice, dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, carriers and research facilities using animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act do not have to comply with the contingency planning, training and other requirements of the Contingency Plan Regulation.
Planning ahead for emergency situations remains an important tool to help facilities weather disasters and emergencies. A good first step is to contact local and state emergency management agencies to work through animal needs and resources important to each facility.