Representative Tom Lantos from California has sponsored the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which was voted on by the House of Representatives on Monday. Lantos says that this piece of legislation was inspired by an image you may or may not remember from the Hurricane Katrina disaster: a little boy wailing as his dog Snowball was taken away from him.
The idea of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act is to require that emergency preparedness officials at the state and local level include pets and service animals in all evacuation plans. Preparedness offices that fail to include animals in evacuation plans would not qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Humane Society of the United States hopes this bill will ensure that people are never again forced to leave their pets behind to face imminent danger. A recent poll found that nearly half of American adults say they would refuse to evacuate if they could not bring their pets with them to safety. Lantos and the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus feel that the lack of pet rescue plans put many pet owners in danger.
The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act was agreed to in the House of Representatives on Monday, May 22nd and now moves over to the Senate.
Over in the Senate, similar legislation has been introduced that would give FEMA the authority to grand funds to state and local agencies for animal preparedness projects. Building emergency shelters could be part of this plan. Louisiana is working on some emergency preparedness of its own — requiring the state to come up with plans to transport and/or house pets in an evacuation. The state would need ten thousand cages (or more) for the animals.