The official name of the PETS Act is Pets Evacuation and
Transportation Standards Act of 2006. This legislation amends the
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
The amendments specified in the PETS Act are intended to ensure that
state and local emergency preparedness operational planning addresses
the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals
following a major disaster or emergency.
The PETS Act:
Requires state and local emergency preparedness operational plans
take into account the needs of individuals with household pets and
service animals before, during and after a disaster
Grants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the authority
to approve the standards of these plans and assist state and local
communities in developing plans
Indicates that the FEMA Director may make financial contributions on
the basis of programs and projects approved by the Director, to the
state and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes.
This includes the procurement, leasing, construction or renovation of
emergency shelter facilities and materials that will accommodate people
with pets and service animals.
Allows FEMA the authority to provide essential assistance to
individuals with pets and service animals — for the provision of care,
rescue, sheltering and essential needs to such pets and animals
The PETS Act was signed into law late in 2006, so there will be some
lag time in developing and implementing those plans. Many states are
already actively seeking assistance from experts in the field in order
to make sure that the plans they are developing are not only practical
and realistic but also that they genuinely protect the companion
animals within their jurisdictions.
History of the PETS Act
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it was overwhelmingly apparent
that provisions need to be made for companion animals in major disaster
and emergency situations:
- Many Katrina evacuees and disaster victims were forced to leave
their pets behind when they evacuated their homes, because no
provisions had been made to evacuate pets along with their families.
- The emotional trauma of those forced to leave their pets
behind and the suffering of tens of thousands of animals was compounded
by the health and safety risks that resulted from so many abandoned
animals in one area.
- Conversely, many pet owners, knowing their animals could not
accompany them, chose to stay in their homes with their pets, further
complicating human rescue efforts.
The PETS Act helps ensure that this situation does not repeat itself
if another major disaster strikes. With tremendous bipartisan support
in both houses, the legislation passed quickly through Congress in 2006
and was signed into law in October 2006.