Emergency Evacuations & Pets


Emergency Evacuations & Pets
(Image curtesy of Department of Homeland Security)

For those of us outside of hurricane Irma’s path there is certainly a sigh of relief that for now the southwest remains sunny and dry. Our own monsoon rainy season in the high desert is finally over which historically lasts from mid-July through August, and although we can experience hurricane like instances of rain or wind, it doesn’t produce anything on the scale of an actual hurricane.

As I’ve been watching the mass exodus of those in Florida heading out of harm’s way, I couldn’t help but wonder how do their pets fair during such crucial times of evacuations? Are individuals allowed to take their pets with them into shelters, are they being left behind, and is there an actual procedure in place to move the dogs, cats and other family pets?

So, here’s the scope - in 2006, Congress passed the “Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards”, known as PETS. Under this directive, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was put in charge to develop emergency preparedness plans ensuring that states and local emergency plans were taking into account individuals with pets and service animals during times of major disasters or emergencies. To date, 30 individual states have complied by preparing emergency procedures that deal with evacuating owners and their pets. In most instances, this includes setting up either separate shelters, or combined pet-friendly shelters that can house and accommodate the owner and their pet.

Being prepared ahead of time is of course the prudent move of all pet owners, and being informed of the situation, and what planning needs to have occurred ahead of the impending disaster is the first step in protecting a pet during an evacuation. Informational websites, like petfriendlytravel.com, or your local government agencies can quickly educate you on what is needed to be prepared for your area.

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