Tom Lantos Legislation Will Ensure That in Future Disasters, People
Will Not be Forced to Abandon Household Pets
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Washington, DC – Congressman
Tom Lantos (D-CA) and co-sponsors Christopher
Shays (R-CT), Don
Young (R-AK) and James
Oberstar (D-MN) and Barney
Frank (D-MA), today introduced legislation to ensure that
in any future disaster, federal officials will not separate people
from their household pets and service animals such as seeing-eye
dogs, as they did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act, H.R.
3858), requires local and state emergency preparedness authorities
to include in their evacuation plans how they will accommodate
household pets or service animals in case of a disaster. Local and
state authorities must submit these plans in order to qualify for
grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama brought
unbelievable images into American homes every night,” Lantos said.
“The losses of life and property were simply staggering. And on
top of all that, the sight of evacuees choosing between being
rescued or remaining with their pets, perhaps even having to leave
behind the trained and faithful helping animals that some people
with disabilities rely on every day, was just heartbreaking. Our
legislation will put an end to that.”
is the co-founder of the Friends of Animals Caucus; he currently
co-chairs the caucus with Rep. Shays.
“Katrina taught us the hard lesson that, as we prepare for future
emergencies, it's important we include in our plans ways to protect
our pet owners and their pets,” Shays said. “The common-sense
bill we are introducing today requires state and local preparedness
groups to include in their protocols plans for evacuation of pet
owners, pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster so
that owners don’t have to make a choice between their personal
safety and their pets’ safety."
At a news conference announcing the bill, officials from the Humane
Society of the United States, the American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Doris
Day Animal League and the Best
Friends Animal Society emphasized their support for this
is a cosponsor of a dozen bills addressing issues raised the Gulf
Coast disaster. Among these bills are measures to give Medicaid to
those affected by the disaster, to provide additional funds to local
and educational agencies to support elementary and secondary schools
for displaced students, to assist vulnerable children in foster care
by providing states maintenance payments on behalf of foster
children in areas affected by the hurricane, and to let natural
disaster victims declare bankruptcy as needed without having to
enter newly-enacted repayment programs.