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Kentucky Disaster Relief Efforts to Help BIPOC People and Pets
A Special Resolution and Proposed Legislation to Help Change Human and Animal Lives
(Baltimore, MD. March 7, 2022) — December 2021 will be a month no Kentuckians will ever forget, especially those in Representative Patti Minter’s House District (D-Bowling Green). At least 80 people died, destroying thousands of homes and displacing just as many residents. In Representative Minter’s district, a disproportionate number of fatalities were people of color. Deeply affected, the Bowling Green legislator just introduced a resolution to commemorate those who perished due to Mother Nature’s wrath.
Minter introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives, which would acknowledge the human and animal victims of the horrific tornado outbreaks, through the commemoration of “CARE” Day, which is named for the animal welfare nonprofit, Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity (CARE). CARE’s Chief of Policy and Environmental Justice Division, Akisha Townsend Eaton, who is a Bowling Green resident, helped bring the plight of BIPOC residents and their pets to Minter’s attention.
After Hurricane Katrina, numerous states enacted laws to supplement the federal PETS Act, where officials learned just how important pets are to families. While Kentucky does account for the needs of people and pets in its state Emergency Operations Plan, Senate Bill 172 would require the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management to enhance its plan by coordinating with the appropriate entities to notify owners of lost pets, provide direct return-to-owner protocols, and minimize euthanasia of owned pets in shelters.
Townsend Eaton believes that “in Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, so many people lost their lives because they were refused the opportunity to evacuate with their animals. Though we’ve seen improvements due to the PETS Act, we still hear people are often willing to place themselves in harm’s way during and after disasters to avoid being separated from their beloved companion animals.”
The bill is being sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. In some of the worst areas hit in December, it was discovered that people of diverse backgrounds suffered the most.
If passed, the bill would facilitate more equitable outcomes for people who have a lack of resources during natural disasters. It makes decision-makers more accountable, encourages the reduction of barriers disproportionately impacting Kentucky’s most vulnerable communities, and helps reduce the intake burden on shelters.
Townsend Eaton is “heartened to see the bipartisan effort to acknowledge and mitigate the impact that natural disasters have on families and their companion animals. Addressing these critical needs will help all Kentuckians with companion animals, but especially those who are most likely to face barriers to accessing services.”
Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity is a 501©3 nonprofit that addresses organizational and personal biases within animal welfare. The mission is to bring diverse voices to the industry while also advocating for a more inclusive path to pet adoption. CARE believes in using evidence-based tools, narratives, and insights to inspire organizations to be more inclusive and less biased. It is all an effort to save more companion animal lives.