LANSING, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, toured the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter in Lansing to highlight his legislation – which was recently signed into law – to help protect animals during and in the aftermath of natural disasters and emergencies. During the visit, Peters was joined by rescue animals and saw facilities critical to the Red Cross’ efforts to help Michigan communities respond to and recover from natural disasters. The visit also highlighted how the Red Cross and Michigan Humane work to shelter, rescue and care for household pets before, during and after extreme weather events. Peters met with members of the Michigan Humane Emergency Animal Rescue team and heard about their recent deployment to Florida where they assisted with animal rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
“Today, I heard tragic stories from disaster response and animal welfare professionals on how people in Michigan and across the nation have been harmed because they refused to leave their beloved pets behind and evacuate when disasters strike. No one should have to choose between these beloved animals, which are often considered family members, and getting to safety,” said Senator Peters. “Now that it’s law, my bipartisan PAW Act will help ensure that every American, as well as first responders and dedicated disaster response and animal rescue workers from organizations like the Red Cross and Michigan Humane are better prepared to keep every member of our family — even the ones with paws, fur and feathers — safe amid extreme weather events.”
“Michigan Humane is committed to the health and safety of every animal, including by ensuring that our dedicated Animal Rescue Team is quickly on the ground after natural disasters to rescue cherished pets that may have been harmed,” said Matt Pepper, CEO of Michigan Humane. “Now that the PAW Act has been signed into law, this team can be sure that they have the most up-to-date guidance from FEMA on how to prevent the loss of household pets from natural disasters. By leading this effort, Senator Peters has once again shown his commitment to protecting animals and their families.”
“I was pleased to welcome Senator Peters to our facility in Lansing today to see how the Red Cross is working to protect families – and beloved animals – from natural disasters and emergencies,” said Mary Lynn Foster, CEO of the American Red Cross Michigan Region.
During the visit, Peters toured the Red Cross’ facilities where they store safety equipment, medical supplies, and other items that help disaster response workers respond to extreme weather events such as severe storms and flooding. The Red Cross can also help direct families toward animal shelters that are able to shelter and care for cherished pets during, before, and after disasters. Peters was also joined by animal welfare professionals from Michigan Humane and their Emergency Animal Rescue team that helps care for thousands of injured animals across Michigan each year, including during and after natural disasters. Peters met with members of the team that recently returned from Florida where they worked to rescue animals that were harmed during Hurricane Ian. Peters was joined by rescue animals during the visit.
The visit highlighted how Peters’ Planning for Animal Wellness (PAW) Act, which was recently signed into law, would ensure disaster response and animal welfare experts have the most up-to-date expert guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on how to care for and shelter animals during natural disasters. The new law directs the FEMA Administrator to establish an advisory group with outside experts to ensure that current FEMA guidance is aligned with best practices in animal care for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. President Biden signed the bill into law on Monday, October 17th.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led several efforts to strengthen our federal disaster preparedness and response. Peters secured $500 million in funding as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill for a program he created to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce the risk of shoreline erosion, extreme flooding, and other natural disasters. His bill to protect FEMA Reservists' jobs during disaster response was signed into law. Peters also convened a hearing with disaster preparedness and response experts to hear how worsening natural disasters, including flooding, severe storms, and wildfires, continue to harm lives and livelihoods in Michigan and across the nation.