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January 18, 2011 - 6:37pm

County receiving disaster prepardedness grant to deal with pets

posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Emergency Services.

Genesee County will receive a $29,195 state grant to help authorities deal with pets during major emergencies.

Acceptance of the grant was approved by the County Legislature's Public Service Committee today.

In 2010, the Office of Emergency Services drafted an emergency response plan for the county that would cover a range of contingencies for natural and man-made disasters. Part of the plan involves dealing with pets' safety because people often won't evacuate a dangerous location if it means leaving pets behind.

While voting in favor of the grant acceptance, committee Chairman Jay Grasso expressed concern that the government was spending money on pets in current economic conditions.

"Don't get me wrong," Grasso said. "I love my dogs. They won the dog lottery with me. But in these tough economic times, I just don't understand spending money on pets."

The grant is funded by the NYS Division of Homeland Security.

It will be spent on the purchase of mobile pet-sheltering equipment and training.

The emergency pet plan is being developed in conjunction with regional emergency partners Wyoming and Orleans counties.

Shannon Laurer
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I say Thumbs Up to emergency services for pets! I for one don't have children but my animals are like that for me,so to know they will be treated with such care if the situation arises makes me very happy! I believe others may be of the same state of mind!
Bob Harker
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@ Mr. Grasso: If you didn't agree with, or understand the spending of $30K for ANY reason, why in the world would you vote for accepting the money??!! As a fellow animal lover and pet owner, I consider this an extremely unwise use of my tax dollars. Is this a new trend? State your opposition but vote for it anyway in an attempt to please more people???? Wasn't something once said about having one's cake and eating it too? Shannon, we have many animal friends here, and will do just about anything to protect them. That is our responsibility as pet owners - NOT our neighbors' responsibility.
Chris Charvella
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The term is cognitive dissonance, Bob.
Lorie Longhany
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I've seen stickers on windows that read -- in case of fire save my pet -- or something to that effect. Always wondered where I could obtain these, because I would probably run back in to save any of my four pets in the event of a disaster. Just found them for sale on Amazon for $1.99. http://www.amazon.com/Pet-Safety-Alert-Window-Decal/dp/B00079YTTC I ordered with my one-click. Should arrive in two days.
Lisa Falkowski
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If this money is coming from a "grant," then why the concern regardless of the reason for its use? My opinions on this issue vary widely based on which point we're talking about. There is lots of stuff going on here.
Bob Harker
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Lisa? Um, where does "grant" money come from? Because it is termed a "grant", it must be free money? We can spend it on anything? Scary.
Lorie Longhany
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I actually agree with Bob. More important is the point that the legislature (or legislator) doesn't agree that this grant funding is practical, but accepted it anyway. If the committee didn't agree with the merits of this, why would they accept it? I'm not necessarily against it. I would just like some more information before I decide. Is the money going to the Genesee County animal shelter for cages or will there be some kind of task force between the three counties that would go into effect when individual cases arise?
Samantha Vagg
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It is my understanding that if this grant were to be voted down, that Genesee County would receive no funding for pets in the event of a disaster. It is also my understanding that New York State requires every county to incorporate pets into their disaster plan. If Mr. Grasso had voted no, then in the event of an emergency, we would have to use local taxpayer dollars to aid in helping our pets. I believe what Mr. Grasso is saying is that although all of our pets are VERY important to all of us, and part of our families, perhaps we should ensure that we have enough funds available to care for our citizens, before we take care of our animals. Just a thought.
Christina Marinaccio
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Where does the money go when you license a cat or dog? In the last 5 years I have paid $155.00 in licensing fees for my three animals. $13 each for my 2 female dogs and $5 for my male dog. The only thing I have ever received in return for my money is the privilege to own an animal. Shouldn’t that money provide something to pet owners instead of using tax payer’s money? Or do licensing fees go into the general fund where the grant money is taken from and then we just have a wash?
Lorie Longhany
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Adding pets to county disaster plans is a direct result of the human lives lost when pet owners refused to evacuate without their pets during Hurricane Katrina and evacuation transportation did not allow pets. Not to mention the pets that were left homeless. I know of a few people around here that adopted Katrina pets. So maybe it's not such a bad idea to have some kind of plan. Is it a law? I googled it and don't have the answer. Should it be mandated here in a small western NY county? Probably not. If it is a mandated program it needs to be sent to Governor Cuomo's mandate relief site. http://governor.ny.gov/mandaterelief, Thanks for the update from the legislator, Sam. I still think that if Mr Grasso believes that the money should be used for our citizens instead of pets ("in these tough times")he should have stood up and voted no and sent the money back. Then his vote would back up his statement. Instead his statement after the vote is sending a mixed message.
Samantha Vagg
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My earlier post was the consensus of my coworkers and I while on break when we read the article. “Expressing Concern” and “opposing” are two very different things. As an elected official he weighed the positives and the negatives, and voted the way he felt appropriate. We all understood his position, on why he voted yes, and why he had concerns. I wrote 100% of both of my posts on my own, with no prodding, persuasion, or input from anyone, including Mr. Grasso. I did verify it was New York State Law on the following link, section 3-50: http://www.semo.state.ny.us/uploads/Planning_Guide_May_2009.pdf
Lorie Longhany
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Thanks Sam. I'm sending this into the mandate relief team. A county the size of Genesee should be exempt. I'm glad that you're here. It's nice to have your opinion and the opinion of your co-workers added to this debate.

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