WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, every community should have an organized plan to keep the people who live there safe and informed. But what about our pets? A unique bill being considered on Beacon Hill would require cities and towns to come up with an emergency response plan to provide shelter for family pets and service dogs.
Senator Karen Spilka, who filed the legislation, said that during Hurricane Katrina, up to 600,000 animals were left behind when their owners were evacuated from the flood zones. As many as 250,000 of those animals died in the weeks and months after that devastating storm.
The Ashland Democrat’s bill would give communities 12 months to come up with their own emergency pet plans.
Bridget Daley of Westfield thinks it’s a good idea. She told 22News that while the bill is obviously designed to protect animals, it could actually ensure their owners safety as well.
“People won't leave without their animals. They're family, not just some random thing on the side of the road,” Daley said. “When there are shelters for people, they want to bring their animals too, and that prevents people from going to these shelters set up for them.”
Under federal law, states that receive homeland security preparedness funding must already account for pets in their state-level disaster plans. Similar laws exist in thirteen other states, including Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.