The Wake of Reform

Newt Gingrich believes there is definitely a place for a pet evacuation plan.

By Dusty Rainbolt

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Gingrich says that if they don't already have one, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should include in their list of guidelines for emergencies a checklist for what pet owners should have on hand for pets and steps to take to protect their pets during an emergency.

Gingrich first became aware of the government animal policy gap when he was in Congress. A constituent in Georgia came to a town hall meeting concerned that senior citizens in public housing were not allowed to own pets. Gingrich helped pass legislation changing that policy. One argument that helped drive the change was that senior citizens who owned pets were reportedly healthier with a better quality
of life.

"[The Department of Housing and Urban Development] had rules that were anti-pet. We proved that senior citizens who had a relationship with a pet lived longer and had healthier lives, Gingrich says. Some studies indicate that there is a correlation between healthy pets and healthy people. It is important to develop a science-based understanding about how pets can positively impact the health of their owners, because even policymakers who are not animal lovers can be moved to support laws if they see there is a connection to the lives and health of people.

Gingrich says that the CHT is so interested in the health connection between people and their pets that it will launch a project called Healthy Pets and Healthy People this year.

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