Brief description and AVMA response:
The AVMA commends the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for their efforts on the National Response Framework (NRF) and the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006, and for their dedication to working towards a comprehensive approach to emergency preparedness and response.
The AVMA, however, sees some significant gaps that should be addressed. First, AVMA recommends development of a service and companion animal Special Annex within the NRF to address coordination of service and companion animal issues during emergency response operations.
Secondly, additional step must be taken within DHS to fully implement the PETS Act and to provide the leadership on companion animal emergency response, including:
- Development of a dedicated implementation team;
- End-to-end program and policy coordination – preparedness and planning; field exercises to clarify tasks and roles of responders; all phases of emergency operations (evacuation, sheltering, triage and emergency veterinary care, field rescue, pet-owner reunification services and support of service animals and their owners during evacuation operations and in settings where pets are prohibited); and recovery;
- Provision of an adequate FEMA budget over a period of several years to support program roll-out and implementation;
- Authority and preparedness funding to create and approve PETS Act programs and training materials; and to provide support for operational resources for states to utilize;
- Subject matter experts and technical teams to assist in the field during emergency responses to accomplish rapid needs assessment, situational awareness and reporting, transport, animal ID and tracking, SAR, veterinary triage, emergency care, credentialing, sheltering, and post-incident evaluation in keeping with PETS Act and DAP 9523.19 policy guidance; and
- Effective integration through multi-agency and multi-sector outreach and coordination.
The AVMA responded on June 10, 2008.