By Bruce Friedrich, from The Huffington Post
Amid the political riots in Egypt, the U.S. State Department is evacuating U.S. nationals. But evacuees are being told that they are not allowed to take their animal companions on the plane. This leaves the terrified evacuees with an impossible choice: leave their beloved companions behind to face certain death, or risk their own lives by remaining in Egypt in order to stay with their animals.
Have we learned nothing from Hurricane Katrina? For Americans and compassionate people around the world, dogs and cats are members of the family. Animals aren't any better equipped to survive a disaster than humans are. Dogs and cats who are left behind in emergencies may be stranded in dangerous conditions for days or weeks without food or water -- or worse.
Many brave people chose to stay behind after Katrina rather than evacuate without their beloved animal family members, and many of these people perished as a result. The animals whose guardians left without them, however, were shot or suffered slow, lonely, and painful deaths from dehydration, starvation, injuries, or drowning. A few lucky animals were later rescued, but for many, help came too late. At one home, PETA's team of trained animal-emergency staffers found the rotting remains of a pit bull who had been left locked inside a cage on a kitchen table without any food or water.
Dogs and cats who are left behind by people fleeing Egypt face similar -- if not worse -- peril, and chances that they will ever be reunited with their guardians are slim to none. The people fleeing Egypt have already had their lives turned upside down. It's a low blow for their own country to put them through the heartache and stress of leaving their animal family members behind and wondering what will happen to them.
A State Department contact has confirmed to PETA that decisionmakers are discussing ways to create more animal-friendly standard operating procedures for future evacuations, but the people and animals who are caught in the turmoil in Egypt need help right now. With the stroke of a pen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could put an end to the heartbreaking destruction of families today. Please urge the Department of State's Egyptian Task Force to allow evacuees from Egypt to take their animal companions with them.
Dogs and cats have no political affiliation, and they don't start riots. They don't deserve to be left behind to die in a crisis created by humans.