Response Partners: Animal Preparation and Response

Natural disasters affect animals as much as they do their human counterparts. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) works with local, state, federal, non-governmental, and sector partners to help plan for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters that affect livestock and companion and service animals.

In order to ensure a Whole Community approach to all-hazards disaster response, the TAHC encourages individuals, local jurisdictions, and other disaster response partners to prepare for handling animal issues in a natural disaster (i.e. fires, floods, extreme weather, and hurricanes) through proactive preparedness.

Local Jurisdiction & Non-Government Organizations

Local jurisdictions (city, county, schools, etc.) should incorporate animals into all disaster plans. Whether preparing to assist with a traffic accident where animals are involved, or dealing with large-scale evacuation and sheltering scenarios, planning for animal issues is important. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to:

  • Establish standing Animal Issues Committees (AICs) to help prepare for and manage animal emergency evacuation, transportation, sheltering, and veterinary medical concerns during disasters. [links]
  • Conduct community outreach to individual animal owners, animal non-profit and non-governmental organizations in their areas, livestock organizations such as FFA a nd 4-H groups, and wildlife rehabilitation facilities and zoos to ensure Whole Community preparedness.
  • Incorporate animal issues into all relevant Emergency Plans and gather needed resources ahead of disasters.

Community Animal Response Plans

State Agencies and Organizations

The TAHC is the lead state agency for coordinating animal issues response in disasters. The Agency works closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension Services, the Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Team (VET) and other Emergency Support Function-11: Agriculture and Natural Resources (ESF-11) partners to ensure state support is available to all local jurisdictions for:

  • Policy and planning guidance.
  • Resource coordination and support.
  • Access to animal and disaster recovery resources and programs.
  • State agency field response staff and resources.

Federal Agencies and Organizations

Both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have a role in animal disaster response. The USDA is the lead agency for ESF-11 response during natural disasters and FEMA helps support companion and service animal support. Both agencies provide funding for recovery programs, either directly to individuals or to declared jurisdictions affected by the disaster.

  • USDA support and recovery programs focus on livestock and large animals.
  • FEMA support and recovery programs are tied to companion and service animals.