Bill in Congress will require puppy mills, roadside zoos and other businesses to have emergency plans to protect animals during disasters

There is no federal law right now to address hundreds of
thousands of animals held in American businesses, institutions and
enterprises, specifically those in puppy mills, research
facilities, zoos, circuses and aquariums regulated under the Animal
Welfare Act. The PREPARED Act would remedy that. Photo by Debbie
Leahy/The HSUS

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

Weather-related disasters such as floods and wildfires are
occurring more frequently and with increasing intensity across the
United States. While there is a federal law that requires state and
local authorities to consider household pets and service animals in
their disaster contingency plans, it doesn’t address hundreds of
thousands of animals held in American businesses, institutions and
enterprises, specifically those in puppy mills, research
facilities, zoos, circuses and aquariums regulated under the Animal
Welfare Act (AWA). A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress today
will remedy that by requiring all such enterprises to create
emergency response plans for the animals in their care, so that
they are not simply abandoned when disaster strikes.

The Providing Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging
Disasters (PREPARED) Act is championed by Reps. Dina Titus, D-Nev.,
and Peter King, R-N.Y. It would require facilities that are
regulated under the AWA to submit annual plans to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture that identify emergency situations,
including natural disasters, power outages and animal escapes, and
outline specific tasks to respond to these emergencies. Plans need
to include instructions for evacuating the animals,
shelter-in-place, provision of backup food and water, sanitation,
ventilation, bedding and veterinary care.

In 2001, more than 34,400 animals, including 78 monkeys, 35 dogs
and 300 rabbits, died when Tropical Storm Allison flooded the
University of Texas Medical Center. That facility, located along
one of Houston’s largest bayous, housed more than half of its
research animals underground. Sadly, the same mistake was repeated
when New York University began construction on a research building
one year later and located the animals in the basement; thousands
of mice drowned there from Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge in
2012.

In 2006, with our urging, Congress enacted the Pets Evacuation
and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, after an estimated 600,000
animals were abandoned during
Hurricane Katrina
. Some people refused to evacuate and lost
their lives because they couldn’t bear to abandon their pets. The
PETS Act required state and local authorities to take into account
— and to plan for — the needs of individuals with household
pets and service animals before, during and after a disaster, but
it did not cover commercially owned animals.

The PREPARED Act would do more than simply benefit animals. It
would also reduce the burden on first responders, the local
community and nongovernmental entities involved with rescue efforts
after a disaster. For example, in 2008, the Culpepper &
Merriweather Circus in Kansas ignored four days of severe tornado
warnings by the National Weather Service to keep two elephants
outside, giving rides to the public. When a tornado hit, equipment
fell on one of the animals. A handler was thrown from an elephant
and injured, and the traumatized animals bolted and were loose for
hours.

The 2014 Farm Bill directed the USDA to create an exemption from
the AWA for people with only a few animals, noting that this would
enable the agency to swiftly adopt a requirement for emergency
contingency plans by AWA-regulated facilities. That exemption was
finalized in June last year, so there is no reason for further
delay on requiring the emergency plans.

We know firsthand the difficulties of providing care for
thousands of animals after a significant disaster. Each year, the

HSUS Animal Rescue Team
spends hundreds of hours and hundreds
of thousands of dollars to assist with rescuing and caring for
animals during hurricane season and in the aftermath of other
catastrophes, natural and manmade. Our four animal care centers,
operated by our affiliates the Fund for Animals and the
South Florida
Wildlife Center
, all have disaster plans in place. The PREPARED
Act is a win-win for everyone: by creating contingency plans for
the animals in their care, businesses can safeguard their
investments, reassure the public and other stakeholders that they
are protecting the animals in their care, and prevent catastrophic
outcomes for dependent animals. Congress should enact this
commonsense reform quickly.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative
Fund

The post
Bill in Congress will require puppy mills, roadside zoos and other
businesses to have emergency plans to protect animals during
disasters
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Source: FS – Pets – A Humane Nation
Bill in Congress will require puppy mills, roadside zoos and other businesses to have emergency plans to protect animals during disasters