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"Not without my Mr. Whiskers!"

Well, it's official: according to the United States House of Representatives, pets now have nearly equal standing to human beings, when it comes to the value of their lives.

Last night, the House passed a bill that mandates states include plans for dealing with evacuating people's pets in the case of a disaster, or the federal government will not allow the states to receive FEMA grants.

Part of this is almost understandable. The bill covers household pets and service animals, and I think that we can give some serious consideration to the latter group. But let's show a little common sense and some priorities. I can quite easily see a case where an evacuation bus (one not left to rust, unused, in the flood waters) being filled to 3/4 capacity with people, and the rest of the space filled with various cats, dogs, snakes, birds, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, mice, lizards, and whatever else that people will insist on bringing, citing their rights under the law. Not only am I quite certain that the people left behind to make room for the pets will be understanding, but the animals will set aside their normal predator/prey relationships and simply all bark, meow, growl, or hiss "Kumbayah" together on the bus as they travel to safety.

I know at least one person who will disagree with this, as we've discussed it before, but I know one thing: if this meaure passes into law, I'm adding one more ingredient to my disaster kit: a bottle of antifreeze. A judicious application of some ethylene glycol should do wonders about freeing up evacuation space for more human beings.

Here's MY pet evacuation plan: pets will be considered an item of "personal property," and each evacuee will be allowed a equal amount of personal property to bring with them -- the specifics to be determined by circumstances. For buses and the like, the "one carryon" rule of air travel seems applicable. If there is available space, then they can bring more. People with fewer items can "give away" their allotment to others. But if there are more people than space, then the allotted amount goes to exactly zero, and Fluffy and Buddy can join the piles of family photos and computers and other personal property to be left behind.

I do not consider myself a cruel human being. But when it comes down to a matter of life or death, I will put the life of a human being -- even Ted Kennedy -- over that of any animal. If there's room for pets, then fine, they can come along. But to give them a standing nearly equal with people is just insane.


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Comments (30)

Although that is my gut rea... (Below threshold)
Steven L.:

Although that is my gut reaction, there may be a legitimate point to be made: many people will stay behind to take care of their pets. If some type of plan is not implemented, their lives will be at risk. So the thinking *might* be about human lives in the end, though it is hard to tell.

I was with you up until the... (Below threshold)
Santay:

I was with you up until the Ted Kennedy part.

Ya lost me with the Ted Ken... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Ya lost me with the Ted Kennedy part. I mean, think how many higher value gerbils could be saved in the space taken by one Tedd Kennedy. Or the number of elephants that could be rescued in place of his single malt "medicine".

If they wanted to put something in there about including pet food on a priority basis (e.g. water first, human food second, pet food 79th) I would be okay with that. If they wanted to make service animals (and I don't mean 'emotional support dogs') a priority I can see that. I don't want to see the animals suffer, but the bottom line is a pet's not as valuable as an animal.

I'm just shocked there's a ... (Below threshold)

I'm just shocked there's a "Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus."

You'd think they'd go with the formal name for Saudi Arabia.

Sorry, I meant to say a pet... (Below threshold)
yetanotherjohn:

Sorry, I meant to say a pet is not as valuable as a human. Though maybe a human who hits the 'post' key to soon might be considered less valuable as one of those pets that you see on animal planet doing funny things.

There is a serious problem ... (Below threshold)
Gary K:

There is a serious problem that most evacuation plans and shelters do not allow animals. In Katrina and elsewhere, you'll find individuals that will not follow "the plan" because they refuse to abandon the pet dog, cat, etc. FEMA talks about this: IS-10 Animals in Disaster, Module A: Awareness and Preparedness,
www.training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is10.asp
but hardly anyone has done anything about it. So this new bill could force agencies to go beyond talk and create "plans" that families with pets will support.

You knew I would show up fo... (Below threshold)
"Candy":

You knew I would show up for this one. At this moment, I have: two enormous dogs, four cats, three rabbits, 2 chickens, 4 pullets and 13 baby chicks.

If disaster strikes, it's me, the kids and the husband and the rest of them can go pound sand. And I love animals - but common sense is common sense. I'll set everyone loose and say "Hop like the wind, Vanilla! Hop like the wind!"

Oh, by the way - Ted Kenned... (Below threshold)
"Candy":

Oh, by the way - Ted Kennedy won't be a problem. I'm sending him over the border to Mexico, as per your other post.

You might have had a point ... (Below threshold)
JimK:

You might have had a point up until you talk about actually killing my pet. If you can't abide by the law, you're not worth more than my pet. Don't like it? Change the law.

You really wouldn't want to be on a bus with me if you poisoned one of the animals that has been with me since the day it was born.

When I read this, I can onl... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

When I read this, I can only think of the images of people being rescued from rooftops during the aftermath of Katrina. This would mean that the Coast Guard and military would be flying chopper missions to rescue dogs and cats when those same missions could be used to save people. I have two dogs and three cats. Does that mean that I am entitled to 7 lifts (including me and my wife) since I have pets? I suppose those 5 people that have to wait while my pets are rescued can just suck it up and understand.

A person who stays behind because of concern over a pet gets what he/she deserves. I know that is a callous statement, but I don't really care. IF you aren't smart enough to realize that your life has greater value than your pet's life, then you shouldn't be contaminating the gene pool.

JT, you're totally being un... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

JT, you're totally being unreasonable on this.

I mean what else are we suppose to eat if we get stranded?

The reality of the situatio... (Below threshold)

The reality of the situation is that we are already rescuing peoples' pets in order to save them as well.

The law is an attempt to standardize response and responsibility planning regarding this issue rather than making it the patchwork of response is currently is.

This is a recognized issue, it is addressed in all emergency training and evacuation syllabi and the problem won't go away. When we leave people behind "to get what they deserve" because they choose to stay with their pets, we either end up going back for them later in more hazardous conditions, or having to find their stinking bodies and clean up their mess afterwards.

Teddy has enough flotation that any water-borne disaster is likely to bounce off him - he won't need help to survive. Leave him behind as a life-preserver for others.

There are a lot of people t... (Below threshold)
RhondainSlidell:

There are a lot of people that can drive themselves out of the hurricanes way that won't because their animals can't be brought to hotels or even family or friends houses. These people are willing to take that risk for their animals. But people that don't even have their own transportation and are dependant on a ride so to speak can bring their animals on public transportation is just crazy. Not to mention if they don't have a kennel for the animal who is responsible for that?

OK, Jay, you're missing a v... (Below threshold)

OK, Jay, you're missing a very important point in all this. Ted Kennedy can be used as a flotation device and at least five animals can benefit. One for each arm, one for each leg and one or two smaller pets on his face. We could possibly use his ears too although Prince Charles is much more suited for that.

Hmmmm.I love anima... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmm.

I love animals. I've had any number of pets, mostly cats, in my lifetime. But a disaster is a freaking **disaster**. At that point you need to save human lives and then cleanup afterwards.

And IMHO anyone who puts their life in danger to take care of a pet is a fool.

Hmmm.No doubt this... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

No doubt this idiot bill will be the basis of many a lawsuit by foolish pet owners claiming compensation because the US Coast Guard or the National Guard didn't rescue their damn dog.

When I evacuated for Katrin... (Below threshold)

When I evacuated for Katrina, I left all my pets in my house along with my Mom's and sister's. we hated to do it and it tore at my heart to do do but my other sister's home which in further inland did not have the space. It was a metter of common sense. My brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, and nephews were more important than the cats, dogs, and birds.

I left them with enough food and water for a week. Luckily, my home was one of the few along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that did not have any damage.

They were all okay. My sister's cat died shortly after Katrina due to cancer.

But the thing is, no matter how much you love your pets and they become members of your family, the human members will always count first for me.

Oh and I had to lie to my Mom to get her to evacuate. She didn't want to leave her pets. I told her to bring them to my house because I was staying. She did and then the Sunday afternoon before Katrina hit, I joined the rest of my family.

Many people do not want to leave their pets and while the plan to allow pets on evacuation buses and into shelters is a humane one, there is the problem of hygiene. Plus animals are territorial.

I'm torn by this because I know a lot of elderly along the Mississippi Coast didn't evacaute because of their pets and some lost their lives because of it.

no matter how much you l... (Below threshold)
Inspector Callahan:

no matter how much you love your pets and they become members of your family, the human members will always count first for me.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why is it that if you can't save every human, you should save NO animals?

Sorry, seawitch. They're either members of your family, or they're not. If they're not, why have them? If they are, why WOULDN'T they be treated as equals to your other family members?

Are you telling me that some stranger from another block is more important to you than the pets you've raised yourself?

Sorry, I part company with the crowd on this one. My dogs don't go, I don't go. Period. And the government can pound sand if they don't like it. Luckily for me, most people agree with this bill.

TV (Harry)

Hmmmmm.Wh... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmmmm.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why is it that if you can't save every human, you should save NO animals?

Because they're animals.

Sorry, seawitch. They're either members of your family, or they're not. If they're not, why have them? If they are, why WOULDN'T they be treated as equals to your other family members?

Because they're animals.

Are you telling me that some stranger from another block is more important to you than the pets you've raised yourself?

Yes. Because they're animals.

And yes. Because that stranger could be YOU. Would you rather I spend my time saving you? Or my cat?

Sorry, I part company with the crowd on this one. My dogs don't go, I don't go. Period.

Fine by me. The only problem is that people like you stick to your guns right up until it's life or death time. And then you call for rescue. And that's when everyone else has to drop everything to come rescue you. And that's when other people have to put their lives on the line, just for you.

Just think of the potential hazards that face people conducting rescue operations in a post-disaster environment. And all you're doing is making their lives harder, more dangerous and imperiling the lives of other people.

And the government can pound sand if they don't like it.

I'm sure the human beings whose lives won't be saved because some chopper crew had to deal with your fucking pets will be relieved.

Luckily for me, most people agree with this bill.

I frankly doubt it. If you ask most people if they'd rather rescue crews spent their time rescuing someone's dog or a 12 year old child, they'll pick the kid every time.

Well unless they're just completely insane.

Hmmm.As an added n... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

As an added note:

I'm sure it would add greatly to the whole disaster experience to be on an evacuation bus filled with soggy, crying and emotionally distressed men, women, children ... and ... twenty angry territorial pitbulls and a siamese cat.

Yeah that's a little slice of heaven that is.

I live in an area where the... (Below threshold)
SAS:

I live in an area where there are pet friendly shelters. There hasn't been a problem choosing to save a human or an animal. Why? There are evacuation procedures in effect for humans and animals. There is plenty of room for both. It is not one or the other.

The difference now is that states like Louisianna will have to get their evacutation procedures in order ahead of time for both.

This is a good thing. By the way, I value any living thing that suffers and dies in extreme pain and fear when it is not called for.

My pets don't go, I don't go.

I didn't and will NEVER lea... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

I didn't and will NEVER leave my animal companions. (2 cats) If I had been in the city proper, I would have been one of those people on the roof . As it ended up, my house was the evacuation center for my family and we ended up with 4 cats and a lab amongst us. (Along with eight adults). One of the saddest stories I heard was of an elderly St. Bernard couple that stood in water up to their neck for over eight hours. Their little white dog never left them, sitting in the limb of a nearby tree. The rescuers when they came would not allow the dog in the boat. It was the last time they saw their dog that was like a child to them.

Amusing. I own pets and no... (Below threshold)
Kamatu:

Amusing. I own pets and now some livestock animals as well as growing up and spending most of my life in a hurricane zone*. At times I've lived in places that weren't hurricane safe, but the family did and now that I'm a bit older, I don't see why anyone that would bother with something lesser (or live in a flood prone area) wouldn't take adult responsibility and be ready to leave their pets. If they cannot handle it they should either: 1) not have pets or 2) move somewhere else.

*Of course, we spend 2-3 months in the summer with a steady forecast of "isolated afternoon and evening thunderstorms" which can and will drop a tornado on top of you which is just as devastating to where it drops as any hurricane.

/rant on
BTW, WTF is this with retiring the name "Dennis"? I mean seriously, it was a little Gulf hurricane, granted a fairly windy one. How does one compare a two hour (tops) passage with a hurricane wind swath less than 20 miles wide with a 12+ hour, 200+ mile wide hurricane like Ivan? Ivan shut down four counties totally and hammered a few more. Dennis hit one county fairly hard, did some minor damage to the adjacent ones and the biggest delay in the recovery to Dennis was the post-2004 FEMA (and maybe other governmental) regs that forced utility crews into big "secure" areas, held them there (except for restoring power to hospitals and such) for over 24 hours for FEMA's required "total damage assessment", limited the working day for recovery teams to 12 hours/day, including time driving to and from their "secure" camps and other such bureaucratic BS.

(Ok, maybe I could see some justification for the 12 hour rule, but since I consider disaster recovery equivalent to a military style mission, IMO that isn't much of a justification.)

/rant off

"Are you telling me that so... (Below threshold)

"Are you telling me that some stranger from another block is more important to you than the pets you've raised yourself?"

Absolutely.
Are you telling me that they AREN"T more important to you than an animal?

Humans are imago dei. In the image of God. No animal will ever live up to that. We have responsibility for animals, sure. But if it comes down to saving a human or an animal, the human has to win, every time. This is why animals are shot when they attack humans, but humans go through a lengthy court system to determine if they should be killed or not -- the human's life is much more valuable than an animal

And, like it or not, this idiotic law is going to make it so animals are rescued instead of humanS. There are not limitless resources (like time and gasoline to run the planes, and people to man the boats, etc). And the resources one has have to be prioritized.

Your whole argument is fata... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Your whole argument is fatally flawed because congress did not declare pets to be equal to animals or anything of that kind.

Congress accepted reality that any time a disaster -any disaster- is looming a large percentage of the people would rather die than live without their pets.

You might not agree with that decision but that is the decision a significant percentage of the population makes.

Congress is not equating animals and humans as you claim, Congress is setting a policy they hope will save lives. If you had any clue what you were talking about, this would be patently obvious.

"Congress is not equating a... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

"Congress is not equating animals and humans as you claim, Congress is setting a policy they hope will save lives. If you had any clue what you were talking about, this would be patently obvious."

Paul, pardon me, but I think the law is fairly clear to someone who can read -- and I think I qualify on that level.

"The bill, which passed 349-24, would require state and local preparedness offices to take into account pet owners, household pets and service animals when drawing up evacuation plans.

Offices that fail to do so would not qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency."

Sounds to me like the states better be ready to handle people bringing along their cats, dogs, snakes, gerbils, et al, or they can kiss goodbye any FEMA money for the recovery.

You were prepared, you took responsibility for yourself and your family, and you did all right for yourself. But tens of thousands weren't, and had to be rescued. This bill would mandate that the crazy lady down the street can bring her 50 cats on the helicopter with her, and if that means leaving Granny in the next house has to wait for the next helicopter and hope it arrives before she drowns, so be it.

I put a higher priority on humans over animals. If that makes me "clueless," I think I can live with that label.

J.

"The bill, which passed ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

"The bill, which passed 349-24, would require state and local preparedness offices to take into account pet owners, household pets and service animals when drawing up evacuation plans.

>This bill would mandate that the crazy lady down the street can bring her 50 cats on the helicopter with her, and if that means leaving Granny in the next house has to wait for the next helicopter and hope it arrives before she drowns, so be it.

You MUST read better than me. I don't see ANYWHERE that the bill says that.

It says to "take into account ... pets... when drawing up evacuation plans" - It doesn't even say the pets need be evacuated much less mandate the order in which they are. It says that evacuation plans should be extended to consider people with pets.

If you think that MANDATES they leave granny on the steps... Well, you're an idiot.

I tell ya what Jay. Let's m... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I tell ya what Jay. Let's make this simple.

You tell be where Congress has MANDATED that pets be evacuated before humans and I'll never question your logic again.

If not perhaps you might admit you were full of shit.

And if you think that that ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

And if you think that that requirement will not be immediately stretched to the utter limits, beyond any reasonable restriction, and lead to lawsuits and screams of protest when people try to apply it with a modicum of common sense, than you're a bigger moron than a Massachusetts voter who keeps re-electing Ted Kennedy.

J.

>And if you think that that... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>And if you think that that requirement will not be immediately stretched...

So now you fall back to the slippery slope argument.

Face it Jay, the bill was not even close to the way you portrayed it.

I'll say it again maybe you'll get it this time:

"You tell be where Congress has MANDATED that pets be evacuated before humans and I'll never question your logic again.

If not perhaps you might admit you were full of shit."

I'll hold my breath.




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