Disaster Planning and Response Resources

The following resources are available to assist PHS awardee institutions with animal care and use programs in planning and responding to natural and other disasters.

Disaster Planning

  • Adverse Events at Research Facilities, Lab Animal 2017; 46(6):244-249: Describes types of adverse events for facilities to consider when assessing risk and developing a disaster plan.
  • Disaster Planning, Animal Lab News 2007; 6(3):21-24: Points to consider when developing a disaster plan for your animal facility.
  • Disaster PlanningU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Provides animal emergency and disaster planning information.
  • NIH-OACU: Disaster Response, NIH Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU) animal program disaster response resources. Although specific to NIH facilities, these resources provide multiple references and templates that may be useful to other research animal facilities when developing contingency plans for natural and other disasters.
  • OLAW Webinar: Disaster Planning, March 7, 2013: Stephen Durkee provides best practice insights into developing a disaster plan compliant with the Guide.


  • Animals in Disasters, from the National Library of Medicine, NIH, provides links about handling and sheltering animals in disasters.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response, is CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) primary source of information and resources for preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. Often FEMA works in partnership with other organizations that are part of the nation's emergency management system. These partners include community emergency response Link to External Site teams, other federal agencies, and the American Red Cross Link to External Site.
  • Guidance on Prompt Reporting to OLAW, NOT-OD-05-034, 2005: Guidance to PHS awardee institutions on the prompt reporting requirements of the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (section IV.F.3.) to assist in determining what, when, and how situations should be reported, and to promote greater uniformity in reporting. Harm or death to animals as a result of a natural disaster is a reportable situation.
  • NIH Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies, provides resources for the biomedical research community.
  • Public Health Emergency, is the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response that leads the country in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the adverse health effects of emergencies and disasters.
  • USDA-APHIS: Animal Health
  • USDA-APHIS: Emergency Response


  • Disaster Preparedness for Veterinarians Link to External Site, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): AVMA disaster preparedness program assists veterinarians, animal owners, and others interested in the well-being of animals to prepare for animal safety in the event of a disaster.

Publications and Reports

  • ARENA/OLAW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook, 2002 (Excerpt - Word): Section B.6. Emergency Preparedness: B.6.a) Security and Crisis Management - developing a crisis management team, conducting a risk assessment, and establishing a communication network; and B.6.b) Disaster Planning - developing an emergency management program and implementing a disaster plan.
  • Focus on Disaster Preparedness Link to External Site, Lab Animal 2013; 42(10): This issue helps to address the challenges of disaster preparedness for animal facilities.
  • Disaster Planning and Management Link to External Site, ILAR Journal 2010; 51(2): This issue presents lessons learned by colleagues who experienced different types of disasters, both natural and deliberate, in varying animal-related settings.
  • Disaster Recovery, Lab Animal 2002; 31(8):27-30: When dealing with recovery from a disaster, PHS- funded animal research institutions have certain responsibilities to the NIH. The authors of this article outline these responsibilities and identify areas in which federal offices can aid the affected institution in the recovery effort.
  • Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 2011: Sections on Disaster Planning and Emergency Preparedness (Guide, p 35 Link to External Site) and Emergency, Weekend, and Holiday Care (Guide, pp 74-75) Link to External Site.
  • Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching, 2010: Sections on Emergency, Weekend, and Holiday Care and Emergency Plans (Ag Guide  Link to External Site - PDF; see pp 22-23).
  • Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals Link to External Site, AVMA, 2019: Recommendations to help veterinarians support animal welfare in situations where the difficult decision to depopulate has been made.
  • Strengthening the Disaster Resilience of the Academic Biomedical Research Community Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer , 2017: Report from the National Academies is available from the National Academies Press Link to Non-U.S. Government Site - Click for Disclaimer and the NIH National Academies Collection.
  • The Threat of Extremism to Medical Research Link to External Site, 2014 (PDF): Report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) on best practices to mitigate risk through preparation and communication.


  • Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) Guide to Disaster Preparedness Link to External Site (PDF), University of California at Davis: Useful information about developing a disaster response plan, disaster preparedness training, and resource availability. DANR offers information, animal care procedures and emergency-related forms that show many types of disaster preparedness activities in which promote community involvement. Check references listed in this guide for more detailed information on disaster preparedness and emergency response.
  • Lessons Learned (Word): Compilation of U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps Veterinarians' findings/recommendations as a result of efforts to rescue laboratory animals following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in September 2005. Lessons Learned describes considerations for disaster planning, immediate response, and recovery efforts.
  • Lessons Learned from Katrina, Rita, and Their "Sisters:" Evacuating, Euthanizing, Rescuing, and Rebuilding - PRIM&R/ARENA 2006 Annual IACUC Conference (Workshop Handout - PDF). Moderator: Axel Wolff. Panelists: Laura Levy, Lessons Learned From Katrina (PDF). William Stokes, Disaster Planning for Laboratory Animal Facilities .pdf).
This page last updated on: Apr 30, 2019
Content Questions: E-mail OLAW
Technical Issues: E-mail Webmaster