from - "L. French" -
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have signed an historic
agreement through FEMA's Project Impact to assist communities and
individuals to include animals in their disaster and evacuation plans.
This initiative will include cats, dogs, and other companion animals as
well as horses and livestock.
While animals have held a place in disaster planning for
several years, the recent FEMA/HSUS partnership will bring critical
national attention to the importance of protecting pets during times of
natural and man-made disasters.
More than 60% of America's households include pets: a
fact which underscores the need for advanced disaster-related planning.
HSUS will continue to work in cooperation with FEMA and other
organizations to promote the incorporation of pets into individual and
community disaster planning initiatives.
Through their experience across the country, HSUS
Disaster Teams have found that strengthening the local response through
emergency planning and education is the best way to meet a community's
needs during times of disaster. HSUS will develop educational and
partnership programs to encourage local disaster preparedness and
include the well-being of pets within the community in disaster plans.
"The primary reason people choose not to evacuate their
homes when asked to do so by emergency management is because they feel
they cannot take their pets," stated Melissa Seide Rubin, HSUS Director
of Disaster and Field Services. "With this initiative, we will work with
emergency management agencies to create disaster plans that will include
pets and assist in developing guidelines for evacuation, options for
animal sheltering, and expanding our teams of volunteers to assist in
disaster response across the country."
In addition to working with emergency management
agencies on local disaster preparedness plans, HSUS is expanding animal
disaster education programs for volunteers and emergency management
personnel. HSUS is in the process of developing courses to train
individuals and community groups in
areas such as animal search and rescue, emergency animal sheltering,
swift-water rescue, first aid, and animal handling skills.
To strengthen the network of disaster resources within a
community, HSUS will promote liaisons between community organizations,
veterinary staff, pet owners, and emergency management agencies to
provide crucial elements of disaster preparedness such as safe areas to
shelter pets and identifying
sources of animal rescue equipment and personnel trained in animal
rescue in the case of a potential disaster. HSUS will work with pet and
animal publications and associations to educate pet owners about the
elements and the importance of disaster planning and preparedness for
"It is important for people to understand that disasters
occur more frequently than just hurricanes and earthquakes. Disasters
can strike in the form of hazardous materials spills, train derailments,
and house fires. Pet owners need to be prepared," explained Rubin. "It
is our goal to provide outlets for
the pet-owning public to access useful emergency planning information
and partnership links so they can be better prepared to provide proper
care for their pets in disaster situations."
Lisa Munniksma at The Trueman Communications Group
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