Rep. Steve Israel visited the North Hempstead Animal Shelter on Monday to lobby for such sites to receive federal disaster relief funding.

Flanked by North Hempstead Commissioner of Public Safety Andrew DeMartin; Robert Slifkin, president of The Shelter Connection; and Toscano, a 3-year-old beagle up for adoption at the shelter, Israel urged Congress to pass the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which includes federal disaster aid for animal shelters.

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"During hurricane Sandy, 515 dogs, cats and other pets landed at Nassau County emergency pet shelters like this one," Israel (D-Huntington) said. "The next round of funding for FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is stuck in the United States House of Representatives right now. . . . We need to pass the Homeland Security Appropriations Act this week. We need to make sure FEMA is getting this grant money out into communities, for nonprofits, for towns, for shelters like this, so we can be prepared when that hurricane hits."

DeMartin said sheltering for pets is especially important during disasters, when pet owners may be loath to go to disaster-relief shelters that don't take pets.

"Pet sheltering is one of the most important things," he said. "It allows the general public to free themselves up to shelter themselves."

Slifkin, whose group works with the town shelter, said local animal shelters need funding for disaster relief.

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"National organizations, after Sandy came in, they were here for a week or two, three weeks, and they disappeared," Slifkin said. "We desperately need funding for local organizations to take care of pets for the long term."