Sacramento, CA (October 3, 2005) – United Animal Nations (UAN) is calling upon members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation that will require emergency management agencies to include animals in their disaster relief plans.
Last week Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) introduced H.R. 3858, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, to require state and local agencies that receive federal funding to implement planning for people with pets or service animals to safely evacuate with their animals in the event of a disaster. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
UAN has also joined with other major national humane organizations to form the National Emergency Animal Rescue Coalition. The coalition sent an open letter to the 109th Congress late last week, calling for federal assistance in the current hurricane relief effort and for federal leadership to improve future responses to animal needs during disasters.
“We’ve all now been witness to the video images of people stranded on rooftops for days and then forced to abandon their animals. This cannot continue to be the way we handle people and pets in crisis,” said Jennifer Fearing, UAN president and CEO. “We are grateful to Reps. Lantos and Shays for recognizing the important bond that exists between people and animals, as well as the public health and safety issues that arise when the needs of animals are ignored during disasters.”
Statistics show that as many as 70 percent of people who refuse to evacuate before a disaster do so because they do not want to leave their animals behind. Because Red Cross shelters do not allow animals, many pet owners have limited options when forced to evacuate. Officials in some states already recognize the need to include animals in their disaster relief plans. For example, some jurisdictions in Florida are piloting pet-friendly shelters where evacuates can leave their animals while they ride out the storm.
Through its volunteer-driven Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), UAN has been heavily involved in the animal relief efforts in the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina hit late last month. More than 200 trained EARS volunteers have deployed to assist with the operation of three emergency animal shelters in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Currently, UAN is sheltering more than 200 animals rescued from New Orleans in Monroe, Louisiana; assisting the Texas Animal Control Association (TACA) at a temporary emergency animal shelter in Lufkin, Texas; and providing support for animal rescue and recovery operations in St. Bernard Parish in Chalmette, Louisiana.
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations is recognized as North America’s leading provider of emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services and a key advocate for the critical needs of animals.