Position Statement

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Animals in Disaster

American Humane’s Red Star™ Animal Emergency Services program was founded in 1916 when the U.S. Secretary of War asked American Humane to report to the battlefields of WWI to rescue war horses. Since that time and for almost one hundred years, Red Star has responded to disasters impacting communities around the globe in time of disaster and crisis for animals.

American Humane  advocates that companion animal evacuation and emergency sheltering development, planning and exercise must be incorporated into multi-jurisdictional disaster preparedness planning. Such planning must also assure that communities are provided with the necessary skill-based training and expertise to ensure the safe evacuation and sheltering of both animals and people in a variety of emergency and disaster situations and environments. Only personnel experienced and appropriately trained in animal behavior should attempt to rescue and provide emergency sheltering for animals in emergency and disaster situations.

American Humane  advocates for the provision and improvement of the response capacity needed at local, state and Federal levels to answer complexities inherent in companion animal evacuation and emergency sheltering challenges. This capacity should be achieved:

  • Through all companion animal owning households having a pre-existing emergency plan that includes both the humans and the companion animals resident in that household;
  • Through the consideration and inclusion of companion animals in all appropriate emergency management funding, plans, annexes and exercises;
  • Through the provision of animal disaster training programs to all appropriate stakeholders and responders to include private business owners, state and county emergency preparedness teams, animal welfare groups, local volunteers; government and private relief agencies tasked with the duties of local preparedness and response during an emergency or disaster.