As a frontline responder, the ASPCA knows firsthand that disasters create impossible, heartbreaking scenarios for animals and the people who risk their own safety to rescue them. Whether it’s wildfires in the West, hurricanes on the Gulf Coast or tornadoes in the Midwest, we’ve seen the severe toll disasters take on people and animals living in affected areas.
One way we can help ensure that animals are protected when disaster strikes is through proper planning. Given the size and expense of rescue efforts, businesses that profit from animals should have well-formed plans in place before emergencies strike to protect the animals in their care. When businesses and institutions shirk this responsibility, animals are left in peril and abandoned by the very institutions meant to care for them. Local first responders and non-governmental organizations end up assuming the risk and expense of rescuing animals during disasters.
The Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act (H.R. 1042), will require facilities regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—such as commercial animal breeders (puppy mills), zoos and research institutions—to create detailed response plans for protecting animals in their care during disasters and ensure that employees know the steps to take when an emergency occurs.
Hurricane Katrina killed approximately 8,000 animals, including dogs and monkeys, at a medical school in New Orleans. Better planning could have likely saved more of those animals, just like better planning could save dogs currently in USDA licensed puppy mills from the ravages of a future storm.
With natural disasters on the rise, this legislation is needed now more than ever.