[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 151 (2005), Part 15]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page 21176]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

                              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.