California’s Pets Included in State Disaster Plans by Ed Boks

LA Animal Services Applauds the Legislation to Leave No Pet Behind

SACRAMENTO (September 29, 2006) —Today, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Disaster Planning for Animals bill, which requires that California’s disaster planners consider the needs of household pets, service animals and livestock in an emergency. LA Animal Services joins the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in applauding this needed legislation as a way of protecting both animals and the families who care for them.

Sponsored by Assembly Member Leland Yee (D-12), A.B. 450 requires the Office of Emergency Services to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the California Department of Agriculture to incorporate the California Animal Response Emergency System program into their emergency planning.

“Pets are a part of our families, and can’t be left behind in an emergency,” said Eric Sakach, director of The HSUS’ West Coast regional office. “With his signature, Governor Schwarzenegger ensures that emergency plans will keep people and pets together in the time of crisis. We thank Governor Schwarzenegger and Assembly Member Yee for their support of this important legislation, which will not only help animal rescue efforts but human relief efforts as well.”

The California Animal Response Emergency System was developed in 2001 to assist the California Department of Food and Agriculture with animal issues during disasters. LA Animal Services is responsible for animals in the City of Los Angeles during a time of disaster.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Americans were struck by the images of pets lost and abandoned because they were not included in disaster plans. Many people refused to evacuate their homes without their pets. Disaster experts say that evacuations would run more smoothly if pets are included in pre-disaster planning. A recent Zogby International poll found that 61 percent of pet owners say they would refuse to evacuate if they could not take their pets with them.

In the months since the hurricane, legislation has passed in nine states, and the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, led by U.S. Rep Tom Lantos (D-CA), has passed in Congress, to ensure that the failure to consider pets and service animals during Hurricane Katrina is not repeated.

LA Animal Services continues to take part in a City Wide disaster planning process that includes participating in a three day disaster response planning session in October. LA Animal Services role is to ensure LA’s pets are included in any response to any natural or man-made disaster.