By Good News Network
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Family Life -
A recent poll found that 61 percent of pet owners say that in an emergency they would refuse to evacuate their home if they could not take their pets with them.
On Friday President Bush signed the PETS Act (Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards) to help ensure that Americans will never have to confront the choice between personal safety and that of their animal companions...
The legislation requires the inclusion of companion animals in disaster
planning by both state and local authorities. It was approved by
unanimous voice vote in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
earlier this year.
The Humane Society of the United States praised the congress and
president for taking action. "While Katrina wreaked so much devastation
and disruption, it also highlighted the remarkable bond between this
nation and our pets and service animals, and the need for public policy
to echo that appreciation of animals," said Wayne Pacelle, the
president and CEO.
The bill contains provisions to help with disaster planning, including:
- requiring that local and state emergency preparedness authorities
include plans for pets and service animals in their disaster plans to
qualify for grants from FEMA
- granting FEMA the authority to assist states and local
communities in developing disaster plans to accommodate people with
pets and service animals
- authorizing federal funds to help create pet-friendly emergency shelter facilities; and
- allowing FEMA to provide assistance for individuals with pets and
service animals, and the animals themselves, following a major
"People victimized by disasters should not suffer needless additional
injury by having to abandon their household pets or service animals to
their fate," said Rep. Tom Lantos.
Disaster experts note that evacuations will run more smoothly if pets
are included in pre-disaster planning. "People lost their lives in the
wake of Katrina because government responders told them their animals
had to be left behind and they couldn't bear to abandon their pets,"
said Pacelle. "For many people who face losing everything, their pet is
the only comfort they have left."
"People see pets as part of their family and they do not want to leave
any family members behind," added Sen. Frank Lautenberg. "As we
learned during Hurricane Katrina, when people need to choose between
safety and their pets, some of them will choose their pets. Now, they
don't need to make that choice."
There are over 358 million pets in the United States residing in 63 percent of American households.