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Congress Considering Evacuation Bill Tailored for Pets

By: Jennifer Ryan
By: Jennifer Ryan

The hurricane season may have come to an end, but debates over emergency response are in full swing. One issue circulating in Congress is an evacuation bill tailored for pet owners.

Meet "Napoleon," a spunky Jack Russell terrier, and "Kip," a bobtail kitty who loves hide and seek. Both are survivors; when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Mississippi they were left stranded with no place to call home.

Dr. Kevin Brumfield, a Northwood Animal Hospital veterinarian, says, "The lack of shelters put a hurting on the people. We'll never know how many died, but I'm sure there was a lot."

Dr. Brumfield knows because he and several volunteers rescued more than a dozen pets injured in the storm, injuries that several legislators say may have been prevented if more pet shelters were available. That's why they're sponsoring an evacuation bill called the Pet Act.

The act requires emergency officials to accommodate households with pets. Simply put. it gives pet owners more options when evacuating a hurricane.

Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a similar program in place, a Web site offering information on pet friendly lodging.

Liz Compton, Department of Agriculture spokesperson, says, "But of course there are people who don't have computers, who don't know to look, so they stay behind when should evacuate because they're not going to leave their pets behind."

Compton says a bill that requires pets be included in evacuation plans is certainly worth looking at.

The pet bill is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, and three Palm Beach County legislators are co-sponsors of the bill.


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