Animal Welfare Act Contingency Plan Final Rule

Animal Welfare Act Contingency Plan Final Rule

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.

Information on Regulation

AWA Contingency Regulation: Regulatory Text

Press Release

Frequently Asked Questions on the AWA Contingency Regulation

Guidance Materials on Regulation

Tech Note on the Contingency

Contingency Planning Webinar Presentation

Contingency Planning Webinar Recording [wmv]

General Resources on Emergency Planning for Facilities

The links below are offered for informational purposes only, as supplemental guidance for facilities to consult when developing individual emergency plans.  Use of the contents of these links is not required for compliance with the AWA Contingency Regulation.  These links are not complete or comprehensive; new guidance is developed constantly as lessons are learned over time.  APHIS does not routinely review the contents of these links and does not have control over the nature, content, and availability of these sites.  APHIS’ provision of these links does not imply recommendation or endorsement of their contents.



USDA National Animal Library’s Animal Welfare Information Center Disaster Planning This is a collection of documents on disaster planning for animal facilities, including guidance for evaluating risks to a facility and a checklist for animal facilities to use during their emergency planning process. Also included is planning guidance for farm animal facilities, a bibliography for emergency preparedness literature and a list of weblinks to multiple sites on emergency planning.

Prepare My Business Geared towards small businesses, this website is supported by the US Small Business Administration and has extensive information guiding businesses on how to prepare for specific types of natural disasters, as well as on performing risk assessments and developing emergency communication plans. The site offers free, educational webinars monthly and links to templates for business preparedness checklists.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Ready Business This site provides multiple references categorized into the steps involved in developing a business preparedness plan, including program management, planning, implementation, testing and exercise, and program improvement. Also included are links to sample templates for an emergency response plan and a business continuity plan.

University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Guide to Disaster Preparedness Although specific to the state of California, this document provides some general guidance on emergency preparedness that may be useful for facilities, including a list of considerations to take into account when developing a disaster plan, the basics of how emergency operations is organized at the state and federal level, templates for resource checklists and communication plans, and a list of references on emergency preparedness.

US Geological Survey Natural Hazards Under its Natural Hazards Mission Area, the Department of Interior’s US Geological Survey (USGS) coordinates all-hazards planning and maintains this website with links to monitoring and alert systems for specific hazards, including earthquakes, wildfires, and hurricanes. 


National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Disaster Planning and Response Resources This is a list of resources intended to assist Public Health Service awardee institutions with animal care and use programs in planning and responding to natural and other disasters. Included are links to relevant government agencies, publications and reports on disaster planning and recovery, and a list of resources.

Excerpt on Emergency Preparedness from the Applied Research Ethics National Association/Office of Laboratory Institution Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook Included in this excerpt from the IACUC guidebook are the sections on B.6.a Security and Crisis Management (B.6.a) and Disaster Planning (B.6.b). The section on Crisis Management covers topics such as risk assessment and storage of research data, while the Disaster Planning section includes a description of suggested elements in a disaster plan and tables for identifying different emergencies that could impact a facility.

National Institutes of Health Continuity of Operations Plan Animal Resources Team Handbook and Institute and Centers Facility Emergency/Disaster Response Plan Template Although specific to NIH facilities, this handbook provides multiple references and templates that could be used by other research animal facilities responding to specific emergencies. Included are templates and checklists for response to multiple situations, including fire, flood, bomb threats, pandemic flu, and utility failure.


Zoo Animal Health Network Zoo Best Practice Working Group Zoo Contingency Planning Annexes Developed through a cooperative agreement between the Lincoln Park Zoo and USDA APHIS Animal Care Emergency Programs, this collection of documents provides recommendations in a ‘check box’ format to be used for emergency planning for facilities housing captive wildlife. Included are annexes on risk assessment, data management, business recovery and reimbursement, and developing memoranda of understanding. Also included are links to presentations from several captive wildlife facilities impacted by natural disasters describing their experience and lessons learned from them. 

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