Pet Evacuation Requirements in Texas Natural Disasters

One of the painful lessons of Hurricane Katrina was that there were no plans in place for the rescue of service animals or pets in the event of a disaster. As a result, in 2006 the United States Congress amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make sure that states include
specific plans for people with companion and service animals in the event of emergencies. The plans are to include assistance to people with animals before, during, and after a major emergency or disaster.

In 2007, Texas HB-88 (Simba’s Law) amended the Government Code to require the Division of Emergency Management to “assist political subdivisions in developing plans for the humane evacuation, transport, and temporary sheltering of service animals and household pets in a disaster.”

In September of 2006 the chief of state emergency management sent a letter to every city and county encouraging local emergency management authorities to form an Animal Issues Committee (AIC) to aide in the development and management of such plans. 

It is our hope that these laws have resulted in saving the lives of companion and service animals during the tragic event of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The question remains, "How many of Texas' 254 counties have plans in place to accommodate companion animals?" THLN will be investigating, and we encourage all citizens to contact their local county commissioners and inquire. Please let us know what you find!

You can learn more about steps for setting up an Animal Issues Committee and disaster plan requirements here and the Texas Animal Health Commission here.


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