Animals in Disasters
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.
Wesley T. Bissett, DVM, PhD, Director, Veterinary Emergency Team, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University Written Testimony
R. Douglas Meckes, DVM, State Veterinarian, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, State of North Carolina Written Testimony
Teresa MacPherson, Canine Handler, Fire and Rescue Department/Virginia Task Force 1, Fairfax County, VA
Richard Patch, Vice President, Federal Affairs, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Written Testimony
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Ranking Member Mark Meadows (R-NC):
Examining the issue of animals in disasters is an important topic in preparing for and responding to disasters.
Animals play unique roles as they can be resources following a disaster: aiding in search and rescue, serving people with disabilities, necessary to individuals’ livelihood in the agricultural communities, or even as many Americans feel today – pets that are truly members of the family. All of those variations of animals in disaster situations present unique challenges and opportunities for the federal government aiding in all phases of disaster response and recovery.
Particularly today, I am pleased to have a witness from my home state of North Carolina, Dr. Meckes, who serves as the State Veterinarian. I look forward to hearing about how North Carolina has handled animal response during the several disasters that have hit our state over the past few years.
While we focus on the critical issues of saving lives and helping communities rebuild smarter and faster after a disaster, addressing the challenges related to animals is important.
The canines and their handlers in our search and rescue teams are critical to saving lives. Ensuring their proper care while engaged in search and rescue missions ensures those operations are effective.
In rural communities, livestock is critical to the state and local economies and, ultimately, to the Nation’s food supply.
Effective preparedness and planning for response and recovery must include how we plan for and manage animals in areas hit by disaster. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about best practices and where we can do better.