Pets Evacuation & Transportation Standards Act (PETS)
Since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, several new laws have been passed to ensure the safety and protection of our four-legged canine friends. The animal welfare organization has come up with a better emergency plan of action and more shelters have been established to keep the pets with their owners in case such an event happens again.
President Bush signed a new federal law in October of 2006 called the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act. This act states that FEMA is required to include the needs of individuals with companion pets and service animals. It also states that evacuation rescues for emergency or major disasters are included in the funding of state as well as local disaster plans. The act also allows FEMA to help rescue pets and other service animals before, during, and after a disaster occurs.
In addition to the federal PETS Act, many states are also joining in on the effort to ensure animal safety during a disaster. These states have either passed their own pet evacuation bill or revised an existing bill that includes the protection of companion pets and service animals.
The state of Louisiana, for example, passed a bill in June of 2006 that enables the state to aid in the evacuation as well as give shelter and other assistance to pets when disaster strikes. These pets and service animals will be given a bar code tag and the owners will get a copy to help them locate their pets after the emergency.
Other states such as Louisiana, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York have also established a better disaster action plan to make sure that no pets are going to be abandoned and left behind.
The American Red Cross has also modified its policy on pets. The organization is now joining forces with local animal welfare agencies all over the country to establish shelters that can accommodate pets in separate rooms or in a facility in the same location.
Animal control departments and local human societies are also using the World Wide Web to post pictures and descriptions of pets to help reunite them with their owners. For more information, call your local animal agency.