Require Emergency Safety Plans for Animals Affected by Disasters

Target: US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Goal: Enforce the rule requiring licensed facilities to have emergency animal care procedures in place

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Animal Welfare Act (AWA) includes a “contingency regulation” which requires all entities licensed under the Act to develop a plan for taking care of their animals in the event of an emergency, in order to “increase the regulated community’s awareness and understanding about their responsibilities to protect their animals in emergency situations.” This admirable provision was proposed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when innumerable animals were abandoned and suffered injuries or died.

Despite the demonstrated need for such a rule, however, the USDA recently announced an indefinite stay in its enforcement “‘to determine the best course of action.'” The move has been criticized by animal rights groups, including ASPCA and the PETA Foundation, whose spokesperson Delcianna Winders called it “‘just more bureaucratic delay,'” as the rule “‘is not particularly demanding or rigorous.'” The ASPCA blog notes that these preventative measures would allow them to more effectively “stretch our resources and focus our relief efforts when disaster strikes.”

By signing this petition, you will show the USDA that neglecting to enforce this and other provisions enacted for the protection of animal rights and the prevention of abuse will not be tolerated. The USDA must not hesitate to fulfill its duties as a regulatory body, especially when rights and even lives are at stake. Encouraging preparedness through the enforcement of this rule will go a long way in preventing circumstances of accidental cruelty or abandonment, and in educating US citizens in the care of our animal brethren.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I am extremely disappointed in the USDA’s recent decision not to enforce the contingency regulation of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This rule has been in the making since 2006 and is thus clearly a necessary component of the legislation to protect animals from abuses and to proactively ensure their safety through education of owners and facility personnel.

I am calling on you to move forward with enforcing this rule, so that every facility seeking to become licensed under AWA must create and practice a plan for animal care in the event of an emergency. I urge you not to let bureaucracy stand in the way of the struggle against animal rights abuses.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: FEMA via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. J Davidson says:

    Our pets are family too and must be cared for at all times. We don’t abandon our kids.

  2. As per usual, the USDA, like the Obama Administration, picks and chooses which laws they feel like enforcing. It is a very disturbing trend, a nation of men, not laws. If the USDA can pay tens of thousands of dollars for conference speakers to brainwash the attendees, they need to quit whining about a lack of resources. The only resource they lack is ethics.

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