Breaking! New Legislation Is Introduced To Protect Animals During Emergency Evacuations & Wildfires In California

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New legislation was just introduced to establish protections for animals during emergency evacuations and wildfires in California. Bill 2568 was introduced by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (San Diego) and is sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation. This important bill would require an evacuation plan to accompany any jurisdiction that requires an owner to obtain a permit to keep animals over that jurisdiction’s legal limit.

“With wildfires being a serious threat in our district, it is crucial for all pet owners to have set evacuation plans for the animals in their households. Having these in place can make all the difference when it comes to saving animals, and saving ourselves,” Maienschein said in a statement sent to WAN. “The security and welfare of animals has always been a top priority of mine, and I am proud to introduce this bill as another way to ensure their protection.”

Having an evacuation plan can provide order in the chaos that can ensue in the wake of natural disasters. When people stay behind to try to protect their animals, they jeopardize not only their safety, but also the safety of emergency personnel who are forced into dangerous situations that could have been prevented. In many cases, these precautionary measures can save lives and tax dollars by minimizing the need to send emergency personnel into dangerous situations that could have been avoided.

“In my community, Laguna Beach, we require evacuation plans for animal permit holders, and this kind of pre-planning saves lives. An unknown number of animals die during disasters, and many more are rescued but never reunited with their family,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “The legislature should take a lesson from Laguna Beach, the City of Los Angeles, and others that already require this kind of proactive and lifesaving planning.”

“As a first responder in the Woolsey Fire, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Katrina, I have seen first-hand how crucial it is that all animal owners have an evacuation plan. Being prepared for a disaster can make the difference between life and death, not only for the animals, but also for the people who put their lives at risk to save them,” said Dr. Karen Halligan, Chief Veterinarian of Lucy Pet Foundation and Social Compassion in Legislation board member. “I urge the legislature to pass this bill, as we do whatever we can to prepare for the disasters to come.”

“During the chaotic time when I was volunteering in Ojai at the peak of the December 2017 Thomas Fire, hundreds of beloved pets flooded into shelters where they were provided protection and veterinary care, but sadly, not all were so fortunate,” said Dr. Heather Rally, D.V.M., Supervising Veterinarian at the PETA Foundation. “As the wildfires raged on, countless pets who were abandoned by unprepared guardians became trapped at their homes, were released to run for their lives, or were relegated to the nearest empty paddock while their families fled. Simple pre-planning could have saved them all and protected first responders who went in after them. The legislature has a chance to act now before this happens again.

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