Position Statement

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Animals in Disaster

American Humane is First to Serve animals wherever and whenever they are in need of rescue and care.

American Humane’s Rescue program was founded in 1916 when the U.S. Secretary of War asked American Humane to report to the European battlefields of World War I to rescue war horses. Since that time, American Humane Rescue has responded to disasters impacting communities around the globe in time of disaster and crisis for animals. 

American Humane advocates for companion animal evacuation and emergency sheltering development, planning and exercises to 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 who are experienced and appropriately trained in animal behavior should lead attempts to rescue and provide emergency sheltering for animals in emergency, disaster and environmental situations. 

American Humane also 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 residing 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 including private business owners, state and county emergency preparedness teams, animal welfare groups, local volunteers and government and private relief agencies tasked with the duties of local preparedness and response during emergencies or disasters.