Existence of the Pet Evacuation Bill Does Not Exempt Owners from Responsibility to Prepare!
The start of hurricane season is drawing near, and I have some good news and some bad news for people who own pets.
To start, I have some good news.
On May 8th, Governor M. Jodi Rell signed a bill into law that approved the emergency plan of operations and outlined procedures for the safe evacuation of pets and service animals.
In the event of an emergency, local civil preparedness plans must include provisions for both domestic pets and service animals in accordance with HB 5189.
Connecticut is the 13th state to adopt such legislation, joining California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and New Mexico, all of which have already done so.
“Thousands of animals were left behind in the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina because residents were not allowed to evacuate with their pets or ignored evacuation orders because they were not able to bring their pets along,” said Joanne Bourbeau, director of the New England Regional Office of the Humane Society of the United States. “Thousands of animals were left behind in the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina because residents were not allowed to evacuate with their pets or ignored evacuation orders because they were not able to bring their pets along.”
Hurricane-KatrinaRelief.com estimates that 600,000 animals were either put to death, abandoned, or left without homes as a result of the inability to transport them to safe havens.
According to the results of a recent poll conducted by Zogby International, 61 percent of pet owners say they would refuse to evacuate if they were unable to take their pets with them. It is clear that pets play a significant role in the lives of their owners, as evidenced by the fact that over 358 million animals call the homes of 63 percent of all American households their home.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a total of 56 percent of households in the state of Connecticut have at least one pet. You can be sure that a good number of them are situated along the precarious shoreline of Connecticut.
After the passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October of last year, the bill proposed by Connecticut has been approved. The legislation mandates that local and state authorities responsible for emergency preparedness must include both household pets and service animals in their contingency plans for an evacuation. These plans are required to be submitted by state and local authorities in order to be eligible for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The unfavorable news comes next.
The forecasts for this year’s hurricane season are calling for an above-average number of storms, including 17 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five major storms with a category 3 or higher wind rating. Although a forecast made the year before that was very similar to this one did not come true, it is safe to say that Connecticut will be hit by a major earthquake one of these days. Since HB 5186 will not take effect until October, after the most dangerous part of hurricane season is over, we can only keep our paws crossed for the animals that live in the state.
This indicates that pet owners are still required to have an evacuation plan in place as well as emergency supplies in their homes.
According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), preparation is essential, and part of that preparation includes storing an emergency kit for your pet in a convenient location, such as near the front door or in the trunk of your vehicle. Immediately, before you have to leave the house, check to see that the identification tags on your pet are clearly visible. In addition, prior to leaving, make arrangements with a reliable neighbor to take care of your pets in the event that you are unable to be there.
The form that local preparedness plans will take remains to be seen, but pet owners, particularly those who live along the shoreline, should keep in regular contact with local officials and have their own contingency plans ready to go in the event of an emergency.
The Humane Society of the United States recommends including the following items in your emergency kit:
- food for at least three days’ worth of consumption stored in an airtight and watertight container, as well as bowls and drinking water.
- Please include up-to-date photos and detailed descriptions of your pets’ appearances, including any distinguishing marks.
- Pet supplies, including medicines, vaccinations, and first aid kits.
- Items that provide solace, like stuffed animals and blankets.
- Small garbage bags.
- Include a sturdy carrier that is roomy enough to be used as a sleeping area for your dog, along with a leash and a harness.
- Include litter and a litter box for your cat, as well as a sturdy carrier that is big enough to serve both as a means of transportation and as a place for your cat to stay temporarily for several days.
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