Keeping Families Together During Disasters

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast last year on August 29, many evacuees were faced with a horrifying choice: abandon your animals and live, or stay together and face life-threatening risk. In the wake of the disaster, heartbreaking images of abandoned animals, valiant rescues, tearful reunions, and desperate people who stayed behind with their pets illustrated the powerful bond between humans and their animal companions.

Katrina also exposed one of the major gaps in our government's disaster plans. "What we saw during Katrina was that the human rescue and relief effort could not be separated from the animal rescue effort," said HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle. "Any effective disaster plan must take into account the incredible bond between people and their pets."

In the midst of the crisis last September, U.S. Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) introduced the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2005, H.R. 3858.

Now the U.S. Senate is following suit. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) will soon be introducing the Senate version of the PETS Act.

The PETS Act calls for emergency preparedness plans to include consideration of people with pets and service animals before a disaster strikes. The Senate bill will also grant the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the authority to assist in developing plans to meet the needs of individuals with pets and service animals, and allow financial help for states to create and operate emergency shelters for people with their animals. Further, it allows FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs to these individuals, and to the animals themselves, after a disaster strikes. With hurricane season approaching again, passage of the PETS Act is a critical priority.

Please contact your two U.S. Senators, and your U.S. Representative, and urge them to co-sponsor the PETS Act of 2005. Click here to take action.

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