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Compulsory animal rescues in disasters would save human lives - report

A new report is calling for mandatory animal rescue in disasters after concluding New Zealand owners are willing to risk their lives for their pets. 

The report, written by Steve Glassey, founder of Animal Evac New Zealand Trust, has 39 recommendations which include giving more power and responsibility to local authorities in animal emergency management, reimbursing animal rescue charities for their work in emergencies and training volunteers in civil defence animal welfare roles.

The report stated there were instances in emergency situations, like flooding, of people not evacuating due to not being able to take their pets, or returning to dangerous situations to retrieve their pet. 

"Simply put, saving animals in disasters saves human lives."

"We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create world leading animal disaster laws that will enhance our vision for a resilient New Zealand," Mr Glassey wrote.

The report looked at the 2017 Edgecumbe flood, which was the largest animal rescue operation in New Zealand history, where 1000 animals were saved. 

"Many animals died needlessly. If it wasn't for the massive efforts by the animal rescue volunteers, more would have died." 

He said that currently the New Zealand animal emergency management did not meet international best practice. "It is often ad hoc and accomplished through the sheer good will and personal interest of individuals with little or no financial and technical support."

The report was intended to help with drafting Green Party MP Gareth Hughes' bill to enhance New Zealand's animal welfare in emergencies. 

Mr Glassey said this may require amendments to numerous laws such as the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the Dog Control Act 1990.

In August, funding opened up for training for rescuing pets during natural disasters, a move which the Green Party described as "critically important" not just for pets, but also for humans.

$1.5m had been set aside for emergency training, but that did not include rescuing animals. Source: 1 NEWS