The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association are calling on state and federal leaders to classify goods and services that are needed to provide for animals as essential when making emergency declarations to suspend operations. Pets, farm animals, animals in laboratories and animals in entertainment rely on caretakers for their survival, and the organizations are working to ensure no animals are neglected due to a lack of sufficient governmental emergency planning.  

The immediate effort focuses on operations including animal shelters, horse boarding and wildlife rehabilitation facilities, sanctuaries, veterinary practices, pet food and supply stores and feed stores.

Across the country, HSUS state directors have been in contact with emergency managers and other state officials to ensure that these vital goods and services are available to people who are caring for animals.

In Pennsylvania, the HSUS state director worked through the Department of Agriculture to clarify the critical nature of businesses such as animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescue groups. The department issued guidance for those businesses on ways they can minimize the risk to personnel and customers. In Illinois, veterinary practices are among only a few businesses that can stay open under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. New York State has also categorized animal shelters and veterinary practices as essential.

“These are trying times for everyone, and it’s gratifying to see that several states are including the needs of animals in determining how best to implement public health measures to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “We have seen through natural disasters that people are more compliant if they are assured that the needs of their pets are included in government policies.”

“While it is paramount that we come together to ensure that our human health interests are taken care of, we are also concerned about the welfare of pets and animals in laboratories, zoos and puppy mills, said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We urge Congress to quickly pass the PREPARED Act to require regulated facilities to have a plan to address the needs of animals in disasters.”

“The impact of this crisis on the veterinary profession is staggering,” said Pam Runquist, executive director of Humane Society Veterinarian Medical Association. “Many practices cannot get the supplies that they need for procedures and are scaling back services to emergency care. We urge all states to designate veterinary businesses as essential services so that they can continue to provide necessary medical care for pets and all animals.”

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