Following the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the threat of nuclear disaster there is imminent. In response, the U.S. Department of State has started evacuating U.S. nationals. Once again, just as we saw in Egypt, evacuees are being denied the right to take their animal companions with them. In fact, the official policy of the State Department is that it does not evacuate animal companions. This leaves the already stressed and terrified evacuees with a heart-wrenching decision: Leave their beloved animal companions behind or stay in Japan and risk their own lives to protect the nonhuman members of their families.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that "a lack of plans and resources to evacuate 'incidental' pets with their owners has been known for decades to be a primary reason why citizens will refuse to evacuate in the face of imminent life-threatening danger." Unfortunately, when it comes to disasters, people who love their animals often pay with their own lives.
PETA's rescue team has been on the ground from the onset of the disaster and just sent this update: "We're at the Sendai city animal holding facility where they're trying to take in as many animals as possible from people who have had to leave them behind. A soldier brought in a cat he found while searching for humans. … They've given us directions to areas where they think animals have been abandoned. … We do think there may be animals who are alive and in jeopardy because their guardians have been evacuated."
Please contact the State Department today. Implore officials to allow evacuees from Japan to take their animal companions with them and ask the department to permanently change its policy by mandating the evacuation of pets with people from disaster areas. Remind officials that the protection of animals is one of the U.S.' most deep-seeded values.
Please send polite comments to:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Noted and forwarded. Thank you Betty.