[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 151 (2005), Part 15] [Extensions of Remarks] [Page 21176] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]
INTRODUCTION OF THE PETS EVACUATION AND TRANSPORTATION STANDARDS (PETS) ACT OF 2005 ______ HON. TOM LANTOS of california in the house of representatives Thursday, September 22, 2005 Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am joined today by my colleagues, Christopher Shays of Connecticut, Mr. Don Young of Alaska, Mr. James Oberstar of Minnesota, and Mr. Barney Frank of Massachusetts to urge our colleagues to join with me in introducing H.R. 3858, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2005. This common sense legislation would simply require state and local preparedness groups to include plans for evacuating pet and service animals in the event of a major disaster. The destructive force of Hurricane Katrina exposed many flaws in our nation's emergency preparedness programs, and any disaster plan's top priority must be to save citizens from the affected areas. One easily correctible issue that has come to light, however, is the fact that many of our cities' plans do not incorporate a protocol for rescuing pet owners. Without a corrected protocol, pet owners are unnecessarily forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their pets. Mr. Speaker, as you may know, in order for a state to qualify for FEMA funding, state and local emergency preparedness authorities are required to submit a plan on how they will deal with a disaster. This legislation does not transfer any funds from planners or rescuers, but rather requires states to include how they plan to accommodate their incumbent pet population as well as people with disabilities that are aided by service animals. FEMA will require the jurisdictions to submit their emergency preparedness plans in order to be eligible for FEMA funding assistance in the event of a disaster. In hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, the lack of planning added to the burden and stress of both rescuers and residents. In a city of 500,000 as many as 69 percent of the people are pet owners and, by some estimates, there are as many as 600,000 pets and animals affected by the devastation of hurricane Katrina. Private rescue organizations estimate they have saved about 5,000 animals so far and have reunited only 600 animals with their owners. Estimates indicate there are an equal percentage of pet owners nationwide. Given these statistics, we hope you agree an emergency plan that incorporates pets is warranted. Mr. Speaker, the faces of the men and women stranded in flooded New Orleans will be forever etched in my mind. The images of little children with nothing in the world other than the shirts on their backs still disturb me at night. But I cannot help but wonder how many more people could have been spared the wrath of Hurricane Katrina if only they could have taken the family pet.