Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act Passes SenateAugust 1st, 2006
In August 2006, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a Senate substitute to HR 3858, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which would give FEMA wider authority in developing disaster plans.
Introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and in the Senate by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), both bills would require local and state disaster plans to include provisions for companion animals and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency.
The House version, HR 3858, was approved in May by a 349 to 24 vote. That bill calls for emergency preparedness plans to include consideration of people with companion animals and service animals before a disaster strikes. The Senate substituted a more comprehensive version for HR 3858, which would grant FEMA the authority to assist in developing disaster plans and make financial contributions to state and local authorities to procure or construct emergency animal shelters, and allow the federal government to provide direct assistance during a disaster to help people with companion animals and service animals, as well as the animals themselves, following a major disaster.
Maine, New Mexico, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Vermont have already passed state legislation, and California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York are currently considering bills dealing with animal disaster planning and response.
Since the House and Senate versions of the bills differ, they will need to be reconciled either through conference committee or the House may choose to adopt the Senate version and pass it in its current form. The bill then awaits the signature of President Bush before becoming law.