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Planners working to include pets in evacuations

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RALEIGH (AP) -- Officials are working to include pets in plans for accommodations when people are required to evacuate their homes during storms and other emergencies.

The rules are centered on cats and dogs.

A new federal law mandates the pet accommodations, but doesn't provide funds for it. Counties that don't comply could find themselves without some federal disaster funds, mostly grants to clean up after storms.

In eastern North Carolina, officials are working to train animal handlers and buy holding pens for animals before the first hurricane of the year blows into the coast.

In the past, animals except guide dogs for the blind have been turned away at emergency shelters. The policy forced some animal lovers to stay away from shelters and ignore evacuation orders or abandon pets.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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