Animal Evac NZ at Parliament presenting animal disaster law report
With the support of Gareth Hughes MP, and authored by Steve Glassey, Animal Evac New Zealand has presented the most comprehensive report on animal disaster law reform at Parliament today.
The presentation was launched with a guest speaker Craig Fugate, the former Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via video conference who spoke about the need to have animals included in emergency plans.
The report found that New Zealand had not learned the lessons from Hurricane Katrina, like the US had; nor had it learned the lessons from many domestic civil defence emergencies with Steve warning that “every day we chose not to act, we place in harm’s way not only animals, but humans who care about them too”.
As part of Steve’s PhD research at the University of Otago, the report identified a wide range of recommendations including:
The need for companion animal emergency management to be led by traditionally human focused agencies, such as the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management at the national level, and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups at the regional level, as companion animal emergency management should be fully integrated with human focused emergency management as the two were intrinsically linked.
That MPI to be responsible for non-companion animals such as livestock, factory farms, zoos, aquariums, and research facilities.
A lack of national animal specific emergency management plans and where plans had been completed at the regional level they had not been afforded any legal status making them unenforceable.
That emergency management laws be expanded to ensure the range of emergency powers could also be used for the protection of animals, including adding microchipping of animals as an emergency power.
Providing clear mandate for the rescue and decontamination of animals, and that such operations fall under Fire & Emergency New Zealand, to ensure human and animal rescue operations were better integrated.
Emergency response and training funding for animal welfare be made available, rather than having the good will of animal charities be exploited.
That the two national microchipping database are enabled to share data, in particular during emergencies to ensure improved reunification rates.
Creating an offence for placing service dog identification on dogs that are not certified as disability assistance dogs; and another offence for failing to protect animals from hazards such as floods, fires etc where it is reasonable to do so.
Ensuring commercial operators of animal housing facilities have documented emergency management plans in place that are tested.
That local authorities need to ensure they have provisions in their bylaws to allow for emergency variations to dog control ordinances such as designating emergency dog exercise areas.
That the legal processes for entry onto property to carry out rescue of animals, including seizure, notification to owners and disposal, including rehoming be amended as the current laws fail to provide for rehoming of animals seized under civil defence legislation as disposal provisions were omitted.
That the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee expand their prescribed expertise to including animal disaster management given the demands of climate change.
That following a disaster in the statutory recovery transition period, those seeking rental accommodation cannot be discriminated against for owning companion animals to ensure the family unit can remain together.
That civil defence no longer have the autonomous power to destroy animals in a disaster, with new requirements to consult with an animal welfare inspector should this option be pursued.
That a new Code of Emergency Welfare be introduced to provide minimum standards for animals during times of emergencies as standard Codes of Welfare often are not enforceable during times of emergency.
That animal population data is developed and maintained for emergency planning purposes.
That companion animals be permitted on public transport to aid their evacuation during emergencies.