Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the final adoption of a rule, effective January 3, 2022, that requires licensees under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—including breeder/dealers, research facilities, intermediate handlers, and carriers—to establish emergency/contingency plans in the event of a natural or manmade disaster or other business interruption.
The rule requires regulated entities to:
- Create emergency contingency plans within 180 days after the effective date the rule becomes final (i.e., July 5, 2022).
- Provide contingency training to their personnel within 60 days after the contingency plan is put in place.
Facilities, dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, and carriers are not required to document their personnel’s participation in trainings. APHIS has also drafted optional forms that regulated entities may use to develop and document their contingency plan.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes USDA APHIS’ adoption of this final rule is an important and appropriate next step in helping protect both the dogs kept, and staff employed by, regulated facilities. Emergency contingency planning can prevent loss of animal life, reduce disaster recovery timeframes, better ensure continuity of regulated businesses, and reassure the public that facilities have measures in place to safeguard animal welfare during emergencies. Click here to read AKC’s formal comment to USDA APHIS encouraging adoption of the final rule.
The American Kennel Club’s (AKC) own Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy features operations guidelines that state “Each kennel should maintain an emergency preparedness plan adequate for the type of facility owned and breed(s) of dogs maintained therein.” To that end, entities regulated under the AWA that are also subject to AKC inspections have likely already incurred any costs of implementing emergency contingency plans to be in compliance with AKC’s Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy.