Animal welfare activists urge Australia to let evacuees take pets
Jan 7, 2011, 6:06 GMT
Sydney - Australian officials were Friday accused of being heartless and inhumane for insisting family pets must be left behind when people are evacuated in natural disasters.
'I think down the track the whole situation in regard to domestic animals in particular will probably need to be reviewed,' Michael Beatty, a spokesman for animal welfare group RSPCA, said Friday.
He urged the federal government to follow the example of the United States, which in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina floods in New Orleans passed laws ensuring that pets are provided for when disaster strikes.
The issue has come to a head because some of those stranded by flooding in the north-eastern state of Queensland refused evacuation because they were not permitted to take their pets with them on the helicopters, barges and buses.
'I think people need to understand how important pets are to people, particularly in a crisis situation,' Beatty said. 'And particularly with older people, or people who live alone, often that pet is either part of the family or their entire family.'
In most of Australia, dogs and cats are not allowed on public transport or even in taxis. Locals who travel to Europe say they are appalled to see dogs in shops, cafes and restaurants.
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