Federal lawmakers introduce bill to protect animals during disasters

The PREPARED Act will help protect animals from harm’s way during disaster and emergency situations.

Earlier this week, U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) introduced the Providing Responsible Emergency Plans for Animals at Risk of Emerging Disasters (PREPARED) Act. This new bill requires any USDA-regulated business that profits off animals such as zoos, commercial animal dealers, and research facilities to have contingency plans in place to evacuate and keep animals safe in emergency or disaster situations.

This bipartisan bill requires each facility to identify emergencies that are likely to occur at their location. They must then design a simple strategy for staff to follow in case of such disasters, and train all employees to adhere to it. Each plan will be documented and kept in the USDA’s files in order to hold facilities accountable to the PREPARED Act, in the hopes that it will safeguard animals against preventable danger.

“The ASPCA has witnessed firsthand how a lack of preparation for disasters can lead to dire consequences for animals left behind,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Those who hold a license under the Animal Welfare Act bear a special responsibility to plan ahead for hurricanes, fires, floods, or other disasters that may strike. We thank Representatives Titus and King for their efforts to address the needs of animals in the event of an emergency.”