Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act Passes Senate

Posted on August 1, 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.

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.