Emergency aid to animals finally a part of disaster plans thanks to the Party for the Animals

11 maj 2022

At the request of the Dutch Party for the Animals, emergency aid for animals will become a part of crisis scenarios from the Ministry of Justice and Security. This will help prevent dangerous situations for both humans and animals. Next to this, the party’s proposal to no longer separate Ukrainian refugees from their pets was adopted.

Evacuation during floods in the southern Netherlands, Germany and Belgium (2021).

Animal aid has never been a part of crisis scenarios up until this point. During disasters such as oil leaks, wildfires, and floods, this has regularly led to dangerous situations for both humans and animals. “There are many examples of disasters where a lot of human and animal suffering could be prevented if animals are taken into account at the start”, states Frank Wassenberg, member of the House of Representatives for the Dutch Party for the Animals.

Such as the flood disaster in the southern province of Limburg last year, where many animals drowned. “People headed into the area at their own risk to try and save animals. One in every six inhabitants of the flood risk areas refused to evacuate without their animals”. During an oil leak in the port of Rotterdam, life-threatening situations arose as well when people in tiny boats tried rescuing the hundreds of oil-covered birds. “If animal aid had been a part of the crisis scenario, that would not have been necessary.”

Thanks to the proposal of the Party for the Animals, which was adopted by the minister, emergency aid to animals will now become an integral part of disaster scenarios. Next to the fire brigade and police, professional institutions that provide aid to animals, such as animal shelters and the animal police, will now be incorporated into the aid structures. In doing this, the government takes responsibility for animal relief efforts during disasters for the first time. Animal aid specialists will finally have a role in tackling crises, relieving the fire and police services.

Flooding in United States. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, We Animals Media.

Sister parties in other countries plead for more attention for animals in perilous positions during calamities and crises as well. They also plead for preventing dangerous situations from arising for large numbers of animals. At the end of last year, over 700,000 chickens, pigs, and cows drowned in livestock farms during floods in Canada. In barn fires, hundreds of thousands of animals die a horrible death each year in the Netherlands alone. In the United States, that count for barn fire mortalities currently stands at almost 3 million animals. This is not just due to the fire hazards which the air systems that these industrial farms are equipped with are, but also the absence of any plan designed to help the animals. All too often, not rescuing lives, but ‘letting the fire run its course in a controlled way’, is the goal of the strategy opted for.

Parties for the animals therefore plead not just for better emergency aid to animals, but for a better protection of the animals in livestock farming and the abolition of the industrial livestock industry, in which huge amounts of animals are trapped like rats, doomed as soon as a disaster occurs. This became apparent when the war in Ukraine broke out as well, when millions of chickens, amongst others, starved to death because of a power outage caused by shelling.

Preventing forced separations at emergency shelters

More attention has to be paid to animals during emergency aid to humans as well, the animal rights parties think. In the Netherlands, the Party for the Animals was supported by a large majority of the House of Representatives in its proposal to house Ukrainian refugees together with their pets whenever possible. At the beginning of the war, they were often forced to separate from their animal companions, as there was no room to house pets in the emergency shelters. Thanks to the proposal of the Party for the Animals, the House has now asked the government to include housing refugees together with their pets in the crisis scenarios.

The Portuguese sister party PAN, which is represented in the national parliament and municipalities as well, has urged the government to ensure that refugees can be housed together with their pets and that they both receive aid.