WASHINGTON - Animal rights activists on Friday urged the United States to help citizens in troubled Egypt evacuate with their pets, warning of dire consequences if the animals are abandoned.
The State Department, which has been evacuating at least 2,400 Americans from Egypt, says that it cannot accommodate pets and asks citizens instead to make arrangements with airlines.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a U.S.-based rights group, said it has received calls from citizens distressed over what to do with cats, dogs and other animal companions who could starve without their guardians.
"We understand that the Department of State's priority during this difficult time is to protect U.S. citizens," the group wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"However, the protection of animals is a deep-seeded American value, and evacuees' beloved companion animals will undoubtedly be a comfort to them during these frightening times," said the letter signed by Daphna Nachminovitch, the group's vice president for cruelty investigations.
The group said that thousands of animals died when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, with many residents refusing to leave without their pets.
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