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. US develops hurricane evacuation plans for pets

Officer Willie Cirone of the Humane Society of USA carries a dog found in the streets of New Orleans 06 September 2005. Photo courtesy of Omar Torres and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 31, 2006
Animal welfare advocates on Wednesday said they had worked with the US government to develop new measures to protect pets in the event of another natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, in which tens of thousands of pets died.

"We remember Katrina. That's why we have pushed for including animals in the rescue plans," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society.

The group says that at least 50,000 pets died because no emergency plans were in place to save them after Hurricane Katrina flooded huge swaths of the US Gulf Coast in August 2005.

Many pets were abandoned at the time, but hundreds of people ended up stranded in their homes after deciding not to abandon their animals when emergency officials said they could not take them along.

For nearly a year, animal welfare groups have been pressing the government to include animal rescue efforts in its emergency plans.

The animal welfare groups and the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of emergency operations and natural disaster response plans, have begun distributing brochures telling pet owners what to do if a natural disaster strikes.

State officials are being encouraged to prepare shelters for animals, stockpile pet food, train emergency personnel on how to handle animals and provide transportation for people with pets.

US climatologists said on the eve of the official June 1 start of the six-month Atlantic storm season that there was an above-average risk of a major hurricane making landfall in the Caribbean and that the US East Coast was under a much-higher-than-average risk of being struck.

Related Links

Subsidence in New Orleans abetted hurricane disaster: study
Paris (AFP) May 31, 2006
Areas of New Orleans had been sinking for years before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, and the worst subsidence occurred at levees that were easily breached by the storm's surge, a study says.

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