Pet owners are encouraged to have a disaster plan for Hurricane Florence, which includes pets. Reports circulating social media of dogs and cats being abandoned on the sides of the roads as families evacuate cut to the bottom of our hearts. Aren’t pets part of the family?
In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina’s evacuation from the Superdome in New Orleans, families had been standing in line trying to get a seat on a bus waiting to escape the terrible conditions. Among the panicky people was a little boy who held on to his small, white fluffy dog named Snowball. Both the little boy and the dog were scared and hungry, but the situation worsened when a police officer grabbed the little boy’s dog – telling the crying child his pet was not allowed on the bus. Snowball was pried out of the child’s hand as the child screamed “Snowball, Snowball,” and then the little boy vomited as he became overcome with grief. The world reacted.
There have been safety measures enacted since the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act in 2009 (PETS) requires plans for the evacuation of pets in addition to people. The bipartisan initiative requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness plans include the needs of household pets and service animals before, during and after a major disaster.
It is important to know, however the bill does not guarantee that hotels and motels must accept pets although many make exceptions during this time. The bill reads:
“Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 – Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to require the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency.
Authorizes the Director to: (1) study and develop plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency; and (2) make financial contributions, on the basis of programs or projects approved by the Director, to the states and local authorities for animal emergency preparedness purposes, including the procurement, construction, leasing, or renovating of emergency shelter facilities and materials that will accommodate people with pets and service animals.
Authorizes federal agencies to provide, as assistance essential to meeting threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster, rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs to individuals with household pets and service animals and to such pets and animals.”
It is advised to call the hotel before and ask if pets are permitted, however hotels are required to accept service animals. Check out these pet friendly hotels in North and South Carolina.
To get ready for Hurricane Florence, reach out to friends and relatives not in the danger zone for help. Make sure to have all emergency necessities for your pets including food, water, bowls, leashes, pet carriers, cat litter, medicines and medical records especially indicating dates of rabies and distemper vaccinations.
When on the road with your pets, keep them leashed or in carriers. Any pet can panic and try to escape, bite or scratch. Stay calm – this is the best way to keep your pet calm. Shelters and rescue groups hundreds of miles away have been taking in pets from up and down the Carolina coast. Foster homes and adopters are stepping up to make more room in shelters and rescue organizations.
If you have been thinking about adopting or even just fostering a pet while Hurricane Florence bears down, this is the time. Never have so many pets needed a helping hand and a big heart more than they need now. If you want to assist and can’t adopt, monetary donations are the top priority.
Check out the information offered on the Hurricane Florence Small Animals Facebook page.
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