Maureen Pugh, National List MP based in West Coast - Tasman has come out in support of Steve Glassey of Animal Evac NZ in criticising Ministry of Primary Industries officials in their handling of the first few days of the Tasman Fire Emergencies. ”Some of what happened between officials, the Minister and MPI in the early stages was a direct insult to the volunteers who rushed to the aid of a community in genuine crisis” she says.
Mrs Pugh was on the ground in the affected areas for several days from Thursday 07 February and cannot praise the first responders involved enough, but she saw unnecessary anguish for animal owners caused by a lack of action by MPI, and it was only on the fourth day of the emergency, Saturday 09 February that people could gain restricted access to check on their pets and livestock.
“Despite a reported 50 departmental officials in the area, I will never forget just the single MPI person at a public meeting, dealing with a queue of stressed people and trying to take their information with a pen and paper.” Mrs Pugh said her offer to help was refused as was the offer of Animal Evac’s computer platform which specialised in animal welfare in emergency situations. “People were being co-operative and understanding, but the MPI response to people who were worried about the condition of their animals was far too slow”.
“HUHA, SPCA and Animal Evac NZ all have experience in the area of animals in emergencies and that experience should have been utilised from the start,” she said.