Target: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Goal: Enforce requirement that animal facilities have disaster plans
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced plans in July 2013 to stop enforcement of an existing law that requires animal facilities to have disaster plans. Despite the fact that it took agency officials five years to initially issue the law, the USDA has undertaken an “analysis and review” of the law yet again. It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to ensure the safety of its occupants, be it people or animals.
The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law that was created to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the millions of animals in the U.S. It is completely unacceptable for the USDA to suddenly decide not to enforce a vital rule within the act when the safety of countless animals living in zoos, dog breeding facilities, and research institutions relies on it. The recent string of devastating tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters is all the more reason to strictly enforce disaster planning rules.
In addition to jeopardizing the safety of millions of animals, the USDA is placing a heavy burden on animal rescue organizations in the event of a disaster. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stated, “While the ASPCA will always be ready to provide expert response to animals in danger, the initial responsibility for preventing harm should fall not on nonprofit organizations and cash-strapped local jurisdictions, but on the animal enterprises themselves.” It should be the responsibility of animal facilities to make a reasonable attempt to save their own animals in the event of an emergency, allowing rescue organizations to save more animals elsewhere. Denounce the USDA’s decision not to enforce its own common-sense law and demand the law be enforced again immediately.
Dear Mr. Vilsack,
I am extremely disappointed that the USDA has stopped enforcement of a vital disaster planning rule within the Animal Welfare Act. Requiring federally licensed animal facilities to have disaster plans is a common-sense measure that ensures reasonable efforts are made to consider the safety of this nation’s animals.
The recent string of devastating natural disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, tornadoes, wildfires, and others makes the need for disaster plans even more crucial. By requiring animal facilities to make reasonable attempts to be responsible for their own animals in the event of an emergency, animal rescue organizations are able to exhaust their resources elsewhere, thus saving the lives of more animals.
Animals do not deserve to be abandoned to their deaths because of inadequate planning on behalf of the people responsible for them. It is the responsibility of the USDA to advocate for these helpless animals and do everything possible to ensure their safety and wellbeing. I strongly urge you to end the analysis and review period of the rule and begin immediate enforcement once again.
[Your Name Here]
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