Protecting our pets during disasters

How can the Pets Evacuation & Transportation Standards Act or PETS aid in disaster preparations? Since the heartbreaking disaster that Hurricane Katrina in 2005, quite a few new laws have been passed that, ensure the protection and safety of our beloved best friends. For instance, the animal welfare organization created a better plan of emergency action while establishing more shelters that make allowances for pets and their owners if such an event should ever take place again.

The Pets Evacuation & Transportation Standards Act or PETS is a new federal law as of October 2006. Under the PETS act, FEMA is now required to take into account the needs of any one with a service animal or companion pet. Included in the funding of state as well as local disaster plans of evacuation rescues for emergency or major disaster is also stated in the PETS act. This means that FEMA is allowed to aid in rescuing personal pets and other service animals, before, during and after a disaster strikes.

Many states are uniting in efforts to assure animal safety during a disaster, in addition to the federal PETS Act. This means they have either revised an existing bill that includes the protection of companion pets and service animals, or passed their own pet evacuation bill.

For instance, a bill was passed in June of 2006 in the state of Louisiana that enables the state to help in evacuations and offer assistance and shelter to any pet caught in a disaster. These animals will be given a bar code tag for identification, while their owners have a copy to locate their pets once the emergency is over.

Several states have established better disaster action plans to ensure that no pets will be abandoned or left behind such as:

California, Florida Hawaii Illinois Louisiana Maine New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York Vermont

The pet policy of the American Red Cross has undergone modification by joining with the local animal welfare agencies all over the nation while establishing shelter to accommodate pets in separate rooms or in a facility in the same location.

The internet has been most useful with many local human societies and animal control departments as a means of reuniting pets with their owners, by posting descriptions and pictures. For more information, you should call your local animal agency.