The Silent Victims During recent history, there have been many occurrences of natural disasters throughout various parts of the United States. In this time of panic, there are many innocent victims that are caught in the middle of these disasters. Amongst those victims there are none more innocent than the animals and the pets. During the hurricane Strain disaster, hundreds and thousands of animals were either killed or abandoned in New Orleans. To prevent future disasters or massacres from occurring, the United States Government should establish an evacuation plan that includes pets and animals.
In other countries around the world these acts would fall under animal cruelty. “In Britain, the protection Of Animals Act Of 1911 makes it a criminal offense to “cruelly beat, kick, ill-treat, over-ride, over-drive, over-load, torture, infuriate, or terrify any animal” or to impose “unnecessary suffering” on animals” (Francine 7). Just like people can be persecuted for crimes and looting during these disasters people should also be persecuted for any cases of animal cruelty that surface during these times of emergency.
Currently there are many problems that are being discussed as a result of he Hurricane Strain disaster; one of the main discussions that continuously are brought up is the lack of preparation that the United States Government showed during the time of national emergency. Currently there are no evacuation plans that target animals or pets in time of disaster. The reason that it has been allowed to happen is because of the lack of acknowledgement that animal rights receives throughout the United States and the world.
There are laws that have been established to control the cruelty that animals have to encounter. The problem with these laws is that hey are not strict enough. Under these laws people get punished if they leave their pets without proper shelter or without proper food source for an extended period of time. What is the difference between those crimes and the crimes that took place in New Orleans; when these animals were left to encounter the possible threat of a category four or five hurricane?
These animals were left without the necessary food source or without the necessary shelter to be safe. These crimes, which are called animal cruelty, are so underemphasized. The punishment of these crimes is a few hundred dollars n fines and no more than a year in jail. There are affects from these crimes at least not for people, but the animals feel it; since they were left to die at New Orleans during Hurricane Strain. “If you kick a man and a dog, who feels it? Well they both do, but nothing is done about the dog because he cannot talk.
Therefore he cannot press charges. “(wand) This is the way many acts Of cruelty are viewed. “The humane treatment principle, which holds that we may prefer humans to animals in situations of true emergency or conflict, but also holds that we have an obligation that we owe directly to animals not to inflict unnecessary suffering on them”(Francine). If nothing is done about this criminal act the death toll for animals will continue to increase and the massacre will be allowed to continue without any repercussions.
There are many solutions to the problem that we have encountered. Currently congress is examining a petition named pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards act or the PETS act (Bill H. R. 3858). This act would protect animals and their rights in time of National emergency or Natural disasters. “This act requires local and state emergency preparedness authorities to include in their evacuation plans how they will accommodate household pets or service animals in case off disaster.
Local and state authorities must submit these plans in order to qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEM.” (Democratic Underground). This would help the process, but not entirely solve the problem. Through the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards act, the local government would actually have to be some consideration for the animals and not neglect them like they normally do. This would actually be he best solution because there would not have to set any additional budget for this to be taken in effect.
Also by letting the local state or city government plan these emergencies evacuation plan, they would have better information on the pet population and know the necessary materials needed to enforce the evacuation plans rather than the national government. Another solution would be to have harsher penalties for these people who break the animal rights laws. This would keep offenders in jail or would have higher fines so that these people would be more reluctant to commit these crimes again. This plan does not cost much and it would just emphasize the laws that are already established.
It will only increase its punishment to fit the crime. This solution could even bring revenue into the cities due to the increase in the cost fines. Despite the fact that the proposal will not harm anyone, there are still people who oppose the PETS act for various reasons. One reason for their argument is that there is no real problem with the current way that animals are handled during times of natural disasters. “There were over 1 500 people who died in Louisiana during the disaster of hurricane Strain” (storm 411
So to have to plan for animals and not entirely on the people who actually choose these cities officials would be unreasonable. By giving the ultimatum of the plan for pets or the dismissal of any grants to be given by Federal Emergency Management Agency, there might be a higher death toll than the one that was experienced during Strain. One major argument is the lack of time that the state is given to plan for these natural disasters. By obligating the local government to plan for animals, it might diminish the time that is given by Mother Nature. The weakness lies in the ultimatum.
There should be different plans for animals and humans. Another solution that would be brought up is to let organizations like the United States Humane Society or the Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPIC) deal with the evacuation plan for the animals. “The ASPIC that was founded in New York after legislature past the animal protection act of 1866″(wand), this act is to prevent the cruelty to animals. The best reason for this would be that they are better prepared and are trained to properly handle the transportation of these animals.
Another argument that might be raised on the re-evaluation of the animal cruelty laws is the lack of officers available to enforce these laws. The strictness WOUld also lead to an increase amount of court hearings and the lack of judges to try these proceedings. The increase of convictions would be inevitable and that would lead to more inmates in our correctional facilities. These would cost money to our taxpayers and would also make our correctional facilities more crowded than they already are. There are many misconstrued facts in those arguments that opposed the
Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards act. One argument is that the time for preparation for these disasters is not enough to plan for both humans and pets. That is false. With the recent upgrades in meteorology city officials have up to weeks before they are hit by these hurricanes. Therefore it would take more time to make two different evacuation plans for humans and pets, then to have the animals included along with their owners. And instead of having two different budgets for these evacuation plans, there would be a more efficient way of using the money given by FEM. to the disaster areas.
Also by giving local authorities the ultimatum of PETS or not grant it would ensure animal safety and prevent future massacres. In regards to the argument that oppose the strictness of the animal cruelty laws, there are already sufficient officers that enforce those laws. The problem lies with the punishment. “There are to many occasions where these offenders are let go with a slap in the wrist” (wand). These are the same offenders that would allow their animals to starve to death. So by us giving harsher punishment to those who oppose these laws we would make the punishment fit the crime.