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Animals Should Be Evacuated, Too

Written by PETA | March 21, 2011

PETA members gather outside the White House to urge the government to allow Americans to evacuate Japan with their animals.

PETA Asia-Pacific staffer Ashley Fruno spent the past week in Japan helping animal survivors of the devastating earth quake and tsunami. She encountered many families who were faced with the terrible decision of either staying in the devastated area or evacuating but leaving their companion animals behind to fend for themselves. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote about their plight in the following opinion piece for The Huffington Post. You can help by sending a polite e-mail to the U.S. Department of State and asking them to please allow U.S. nationals to bring their companion animals with them when they evacuate Japan.  

PETA’s Ashley Fruno has been working in Sendai and the surrounding areas since the first flight into Tokyo after the tsunami. She is helping people who wouldn’t go into shelters there because they can’t take their animals and their animals are family to them. Stories of reunions abound. One man let his dog, Shane, out of the house, then ran to warn neighbors of the approaching tsunami. Before Shane’s “dad” could return, the wave came crashing in. He feared that Shane was lost forever. A few days ago, Shane showed up, both elbows cut and bruised, at a school he had never been to before: the same school where his guardian was now living.

Most Americans, like most Japanese, view their dogs, cats, and other animal companions as family members, and rightly so. Yet, the U.S. State Department is tearing apart families by forcing U.S. citizens who are evacuating the crises in Japan, Libya, and Bahrain to leave behind their dogs and cats. I thought that we had overcome that callous mindset after the nightmares of children being forcibly separated from their dogs and cats by the National Guard after Hurricane Katrina, but I was wrong.

When riots broke out in Egypt last month, U.S. evacuees faced the agonizing choice between flying home to safety — which meant leaving their animals to likely suffer and die in a hostile environment, alone and scared — or staying behind and risking their own lives to remain with their beloved companions. Why would we do that to them? Only after PETA alerted our members and repeatedly urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to allow animals on U.S. government-chartered evacuation flights were some animals finally allowed on the last flight out of Egypt — if they were small enough to fit in a carrier under an airplane seat. Too bad, Lassie, you’d have to eat dirt and dodge petrol bombs.

U.K. citizens fleeing the Middle East and Japan have been allowed to take their animal companions with them on evacuation flights. The U.S. is not so civilized, and that’s a blot on our national copybook. Obviously, the Department of State’s policy against evacuating animals in crises puts both animals and the people who care about them in peril. In summarizing the lessons learned after the Hurricane Katrina rescue and relief efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that “… a lack of plans and resources to evacuate ‘incidental’ pets with their owners has been known for decades to be a primary reason why citizens will refuse to evacuate in the face of imminent life-threatening danger.”

Animals aren’t any better equipped to survive an emergency than humans are. Few people missed the fact that after Hurricane Katrina, people died because buses and emergency shelters wouldn’t allow their animals. Dogs and cats whose guardians abandoned them, sometimes at gunpoint, to “fend for themselves” slowly wasted away, terrified and delirious from dehydration or reeling from the pain of broken bones and infected wounds. Many once-beloved animals were shot dead in the streets by authorities. PETA’s team of rescuers who were in the muck and grime, pried open house doors and padlocked gates only to find, in many cases, animals’ carcasses.

It was years ago that we first heard a president talk about a kinder, gentler nation, so why would it still be just that — talk? Isn’t it time to protect the most vulnerable members of our citizens’ families? We’ve lived through enough disasters in recent years to know the devastation that results when evacuation policies force family members apart. It’s time for the State Department to permanently change its official policy to allow all members of U.S. citizens’ families — no matter what size they are or how many legs they have — to evacuate together when disaster strikes. Please, contact the State Department and raise hell.

Via Huffington Post


Commenting is closed.
  • Oceancoral says:

    So sad.

  • monica says:

    I think America is a heartless, cruel Country. Animals are part of our families!! they feel sadness, desperation, fear,just like humans….there is no much difference between aniamls and us….except THAT THEY LOVE US unconditionally, and wahat about us? its completely cruel,absurd and unfair that the American Government does not allow US citizens to comeback with their pets.Pets are A VERY IMPORTANT part of any human life!! BARACK OBAMA…you can do something about that!!! open your heart!!and allow those innocent , gentle and scare pets to reunite with their families! you would do it if this happened to any of your daughters!

  • paul says:

    sad and disgusting

  • Elsje says:

    Lets face it, the American Government and its policy makers doesnt give a rats ass about animals and their safety. I was hoping Barak Obama would change this middle ages dark thinking that hangs over Americas sad reputation of cruelty against animals, but lo and behold, The United Kingdom allows its citizens & their pets to return home TOGETHER safely, but America’s government officials doesnt give a damn. America shows a heart of cruelty causing heart-break for their citizens and their animals separating them with no guilty conscience. America used to be the land of the free, but it seems as if America has become the land of the narrow-minded. I am a South African and extremely disappointed in the decisions America is making about emotional issues. America has become autocratic in many ways. President Obama – you can change this you have it in your power. Please do something about it.

  • Michelle says:

    For the RESPECT OF LIFE, and because human beeings are RESPONSIBLE towards animals when they adopt them. Please, don’t encourage more cruelty and allow people to give this respect to animals.

  • Tahina says:

    Please please we have to stop tragedies in becoming even more devastating.I cannot imagine having to decide in leaving my pets behind,Do not do what supposedly is a red flag when we grow up “people who is mean and heartless to animals may be capable of even worst actions” Please help!

  • Victoria Haselden says:

    Please allow pets to be brought to safety by their owners. the trauma of the disaster is greatly amplified when children and owners and pets are ripped from each other in these terrible events.Why are we so heartless?

  • Brenda Carey says:

    My animal companions have been more kind and loyal to me than any humans that I have ever known. They are my adopted children. I would rather die than abandon someone who has been so good to me and that I love so much. I hope that the State Dept doesn’t ever put me in that position, but if they did, I assure you, I would not abandon them. Never.

  • Judy Boone says:

    U S A Citizens need to unite animals are family members !!! do not expect pet parents to accept this horrific ruling -I will never support ANY pol. who agrees to keeping this law in effect- This says all the talking about a kinder, gentler nation is A LIE –if it were true our pets would be welcomed on planes for evacuation !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Judy Boone says:

    Next the U S A will expect citizens in foreign countries will demand they leave thier kids “too costly “to fly out when evac. is started my fur babies are family members telling me to desert them is depraved we show concern for other countries people but our people are screwed

  • chinagirl says:

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ” — Ghandi

  • Ilse Venter says:

    Obama catch a wake up!!!! How would you like eing seperated from your kids!

  • Piper says:

    WHY is this the US State Dept. policy? What could possibly be the reason they refuse to include companion animals in emergency evacuations? And who supports this policy? What American drempt up this bizarre idea that NO ONE supports? Is Halliburton making money off of this policy? Our government is scary if they can put policies into action that have no basis in rationale and ZERO support from the public. Next we’ll be tattooing barcodes on newborn children, I’m sure…

  • Marcelo Muller says:

    I find appalling that you are not letting evacuees bring their pets with them. Can you even imagine or consider that this is causing even a greater tragedy? Do not leave animals behind in the solving of the problems originated by natural disasters. Allow people bring their pets with them. Sincerely, Marcelo Muller

  • Tony says:

    Im sorry but sometimes you have to put the life of a human being before the life of a pet.

  • [X]rat king says:

    Don’t idiots ever listen???

  • luca says:

    you can not leave them behind!!!!

  • Linda says:

    American policy makers DO NOT get it….we Americans love our pets and DO NOT want to leave them behind. Secretary of State Clinton – step up and change this policy that forces us to leave our beloved pets behind to fend for themselves. This policy is shameful!!!

  • Therese says:

    animas life are just as much worth as humans and they are family too and you don’t leave family behind

  • suzie says:

    i love my pets very much and i wouldn’t want to leave them behind, but this article hasn’t even mentioned the biosecurity risks of bringing animals from japan. would you like your animals at home to catch some horrible disease because proper quarantine wasn’t implemented?

  • yiota charalampopoulou says:

    Our pets are members of our family. We do not abandon them in difficult situations.

  • gina p says:

    The people who serve in our military are very honorable and we need to respect them. They give up everything to go overseas. To not allow their animals to evacuate with them is unacceptable. In the military contracts, they take care of their animals to go over there so I feel that the U.S. government could be breaching their contract with people who serve in the military. We need to fight for a clause in their contract ensuring that their pets can return with them.

  • Madhu says:

    Pls donot mutate families … Pets are an inseparable part of the families that they belong to. It is like asking a person to choose to ampute a part of the heart or live with a aching heart all life ! Pls donot do this !!!

  • Eva Aridjis says:

    Animals must stay with their owners!

  • Sangeetha says:

    Animals are like one of the family member…. I cannot imagine leaving behind my baby pet if such incident happens to us! Please dont let the animals suffer!

  • Rat King says:

    The dogs are good enough for saving humans – humans are not good enough for saving dogs! An angel is an angel and a jerk is a jerk!

  • jjetsam3 says:

    I would never abandon my animals – not that I want to sound nobler than the refugees that were forced to do so. But my babies are my family. I would hold onto them to the bitter end just like I would hold onto my human babies. We are saved as a family or we perish as a family. Shame on the State Department for separating families in such a callous way.

  • camilla says:

    it is insane even to think to leave them there. yes, they are of different species, but still familymembers.

  • mark p says:

    animals ARE family and should NEVER be left behind…if the people in charge of American policy don’t get that, how stupid can you be…