|NEWS RELEASE||September 4, 2005|
Doctors Say Forcing Evacuees to Abandon Companion Animals Traumatizes Them Further
WASHINGTON—Doctors from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine sharply criticized federal authorities carrying out the New Orleans evacuation for forcing evacuees to choose between their possessions and their companion animals.
A 98-year-old woman was forced to abandon her dog—her only companion for many years. A small boy’s dog was taken from his arms; he was told by police that animals could not be saved.
A 34-year-old nurse was forced to choose between bringing her dogs with her in an evacuation boat and bringing medicines for her husband—a liver transplant patient.
PCRM psychiatrists said that being forced to leave animals behind aggravates the trauma the flood victims have already endured. For many, companion animals are like other family members. “The evacuation process is already slow and difficult. It is only more painful when evacuees are forced to leave their animals behind, condemning them to a slow death by dehydration,” said PCRM ethologist Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D.
Abandoning animals is illegal under Louisiana law.
PCRM experts in D.C. and other cities are available for interviews.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.