Conference Stresses Disaster Planning and Large Animal Rescue

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) hosted the 2006 National Conference on Animals in Disaster (NCAD) May 31-June 3 in Arlington, Va. A variety of animal rescue organizations sponsored the event, which was attended by more than 650 individuals, including veterinarians, emergency response professionals, and animal care and control professionals. The meeting was dedicated to learning from the 2005 hurricanes, and it included a focus on animal disease/avian influenza preparation.

The animal disaster planning, preparation, response, and recovery cycle has become significantly more advanced since the last NCAD Conference in 2004. (The meeting is held every other year, and this was the fourth gathering.) This improvement is likely due to the recent passage of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act 349-24) and experience gained in the thick of disaster response by numerous people during the 2005 hurricanes. (The PETS Act, passed May 22 by the U.S. House of Representatives, requires state and local officials to take into account animal issues when drawing up evacuation plans or not qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. Action on a Senate companion bill is pending.) The issues are fresh in the minds of deployed personnel, so it was a good time to discuss ways to streamline future responses. Equine concerns were addressed in many sessions, but the general emphasis was on companion animals.

HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle emphasized the importance of owners having disaster/evacuation plans and taking personal responsibility for their animals. A new disaster preparation pamphlet for animal owners, developed by a partnership of organizations and the Department of Homeland Security, was unveiled at the meeting. It is available for free download at

For more information on the conference see

About the Author

Rebecca Gimenez, PhD

Rebecca Gimenez, BS, PhD (animal physiology), is the primary instructor and President of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. Her first book, Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, was published in 2008. She is an internationally sought instructor in technical rescue techniques, procedures, and methodologies, and she has published numerous critiques, articles and journal submissions on horse safety, technical large animal rescue and horse handling issues.

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