Today, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) called for the swift passage of annual funding legislation that will provide funding for FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund and other grant programs for organizations that run animal shelters that care for pets during disasters. He also urged owners of pets and service animals, now that Hurricane Season is upon us, to include their animals in their emergency preparedness plans.
Rep. Israel said, "For the millions of New Yorkers who are animal owners, pets are an important part of their family and deserve to be properly cared for in the event of a disaster. Congress must pass this legislation so funding is accessible and animal shelters can focus on caring for these pets during disasters without worrying about how they will be able to cover all the costs. I also encourage pet and service animal owners to include animals in their own emergency preparedness plans. "
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said, "The North Hempstead Animal shelter played a critical role during Superstorm Sandy for shelter pets and pet owners that were unable to care for their animals during the storm. I commend Congressman Israel for advocating for shelters like ours across New York so our pets receive the care they deserve the next time a natural disaster hits."
In 2006, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act became law and required states and localities to take into account the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals before, during, and after a disaster. Since its passage, FEMA has worked with federal agencies and other partners to ensure that preparedness policies are in place for emergency pet evacuation and sheltering operations. Robust funding for FEMA also helps support the many facets of disaster relief, such as rescue, care, and sheltering support. In order for this funding to be appropriated, Congress must pass the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which will be considered on the House floor this week.
After Superstorm Sandy hit, hundreds of animals were housed in pet shelters in Nassau County. While most of the pets were eventually taken back by their families, the animals that were not claimed were either adopted or sent to an animal rescue groups.
Rep. Israel offered the following tips for owners of pets and service animals to keep them safe during natural disasters:
* If you're staying at home, make a pet care kit with the following: pet health records, rabies tag information, medications, food and water bowls, food for one week, at least one gallon of water per day for a large dog, a portable crate, and a collar and leash.
* If you need to evacuate your home, don't leave an animal behind. Ensure the pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date contact identification and a rabies tag. Put a copy of your pet's important papers--including license, vaccination documents, and health records--in a waterproof bag. You should also have a picture of you and your pet together, which can be used for identification in case you become separated. Prepare a list of pet-friendly hotels in advance.