Natural and human induced disasters can negatively impact companion animals, horses, and livestock. Therefore, owners must consider the needs of their pets and larger animals and develop a disaster preparedness plan to increase survival chances in case tragedy strikes. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), disasters have increased fivefold over the last 50 years, yet animals’ needs are often overlooked during disasters.
To address this issue, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The measure was subsequently signed into law by President Joe Biden on Oct. 17. The Planning for Animal Wellness (PAW) Act, H.R.7789/S.4205, promotes collaborative relationships among government agencies and outside experts to include pets in disaster planning.
This legislation will prompt the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assemble an expert panel to review current emergency and natural disaster best practices for animals, and issue new informed guidance, if applicable.
This article highlights animal disaster preparedness innovations and recommends actions for your clients facing these situations.
Organizations dedicated to saving animals during disaster situations
When disasters strike, animals can be separated from their families and may face dangerous situations. Fortunately, several organizations are dedicated to protecting and helping to save animals in disaster affected communities. The organizations include:
States coordinating disaster response for animals
Some states are taking innovative action to coordinate animal disaster responses, such as:
Disaster preparation tips for pet owners
A 2021 ASPCA survey revealed that 83% of current pet owners live in a community affected by natural disasters. Encourage your clients to prepare for their pets’ safety before a disaster, remind them that conditions unsafe for humans are not safe for pets, and emphasize that they should never leave pets behind during a disaster. Recommendations for pet owners include:
Disaster preparation tips for horse owners
A horse’s size, nature, and transportation needs make disaster preparedness especially important. Recommendations for horse owners include:
Disaster preparedness is important to save animals during these frightening and dangerous situations. The recently enacted federal measure will hopefully provide needed guidance on best practices to help animals in emergencies.