An Open Letter To The United States Of America Department Of Homeland Security

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

The Conference Report accompanying the recently passed 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, C.R. 109-241, calls upon the Secretary to report on the status of catastrophe and evacuation planning in all 50 states and in the nation's 75 largest urban areas. This Conference Report calls for certifications of the exact status of evacuation plans and plans for the sustenance of evacuees.

We are writing to encourage you to include in this important report information on the extent to which evacuation plans deal adequately with animals, including the needs of families with companion animals. The members of the National Emergency Animal Rescue (NEAR) Coalition are concerned that the lack of planning for evacuation, rescue, and sheltering of companion animals compromised the efficacy of recovery efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We witnessed hundreds of citizens who were unwilling to evacuate the disaster area if it meant abandoning their beloved pets.

A vital part of any disaster or evacuation plan is a strategy for evacuating, rescuing, and sheltering companion animals, and for reuniting them with their families. Further, disaster plans should encompass all captive animals; as you likely know, there are public health and safety issues associated with animals used for exhibition, research and food. The National Emergency Animal Rescue Coalition is comprised of national organizations with extensive experience and knowledge in the fields of animal rescue, shelter, and reunification. We welcome the opportunity to work with you on this important issue and stand ready to offer any assistance that is needed.

Sincerely yours,

The National Emergency Animal Rescue Coalition

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