Apparently I missed it, but ol' Dubya actually did something right. On October 6th, he signed into law the PETS Act, which will (hopefully) help prevent animal-related tragedies like we saw in the aftermath of a certain unfortunately-named hurricane. A good summary of the act can be found here:
http://tinyurl.com/ylk3kv (HSUS link)
Not that I thought there was any danger of him *not* signing it (Lord knows he's not famous for his vetoes), but having it done is a huge relief for me. I'll be the first to admit that I am way too emotionally affected by things beyond my control, and what I saw last year (the few times I got caught up and didn't change the channel in time) really did a number on me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I feel a great deal of responsibility towards the animals who live with me. Granted, there is also insane love and almost slavelike devotion to them, but responsibility is key. They did not choose a life of captivity, and they did not choose a life with me. I choose (I truly see every day as a choice, hence the present tense) both of these things for them, and thereby force them into a life of utter dependence on me. This is a fact. And the same is true for anyone who keeps a pet, whether they want to look at it this way or not. Regardless, the upshot is that in doing so, we take on the responsibility to ensure that they are healthy and safe and happy.
Where I'm going with all that is this: the PETS Act - while wonderful and (in my opinion) necessary - is not enough. I beg of anyone reading who has an animal dependent to be sure that you have an emergency plan in place for him or her. They cannot fend for themselves after a life of captivity, and in the event of an emergency they cannot free themselves from their cages/crates and/or your house. You can google (or whatever search engine you prefer) to find lots of help - the term "pets emergency" works beautifully. If you don't feel like searching, here's a decent link:
Even if you don't have an emergency plan for yourself, please put one together for your critters. I'm asking because they can't.