|Congress Passes AKC-Supported Version of 'PETS' Bill
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent the “Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006,” known as “PETS.” PETS addresses the problems experienced by pet owners before, during and after the 2005 hurricane season. The enacted bill includes the stronger Senate language -- which the AKC supported and lobbied for-- rather than the weaker House version of the bill. The bill now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it.
Amidst evacuation for hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many pet owners were forced to leave their pets behind because emergency relief agencies, transportation facilities and shelters were not equipped to accommodate them. This caused some persons to resist evacuation orders, slowing down the process and putting human life at risk. Equally problematic was the public reaction to the widespread publicity given to the plight of the pets that were left behind. A recent AKC survey revealed that 67 percent of pet owning households nationwide said they would refuse future evacuation orders if they were unable to take their pets with them.
The PETS bill requires that disaster relief and emergency management agencies include provisions for the needs of households and individuals with pets and service animals in disaster relief plans as a condition for federal approval of such plans. The bill also makes providing services to individuals with household pets and service animals a legitimate activity on which to spend emergency and disaster relief funding, and authorizes the federal government to provide funds to states and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes, and for procurement, construction, leasing, or renovating of emergency shelter facilities that will accommodate people with pets and service animals.
AKC President Dennis Sprung commended the Congressional action, saying “I want to thank the Congress for acting promptly and decisively to address this problem. This legislation will go a long way in assuring that the disastrous situation that occurred in 2005 is not repeated. I also want to thank the many members of the purebred dog fancy who supported and helped advocate for the passage of this important legislation.”
Sprung also noted that the successful passage of the PETS bill was a collaborative effort involving many animal interest organizations and AKC was pleased to be a leader among them.
During the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the AKC sent staff to the affected areas to assist with the needs of displaced animals and affected fanciers. Many individuals as well as 545 AKC clubs and organizations made donations to the AKC/CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund, enabling AKC to organize and support multiple airlifts transporting dogs to facilities out of the affected region. In addition, AKC recently hired a full-time employee who is responsible for coordinating disaster relief efforts on behalf of the AKC and AKC/CAR.
Legislative Liaisons and local kennel clubs are encouraged to offer their assistance to state and local emergency management teams as they draft new regulations to comply with this bill and the many statewide disaster planning bills adopted this session. Fanciers have a very unique expertise when it comes to traveling with pets. Legislative liaisons can use this knowledge to assist in the development of emergency plans. This also helps to build relationships that can be invaluable when animal control legislation is proposed. If you would like more information about how to get involved with this important issue, please contact the Canine Legislation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.