Just in case: Emergency planning for pets
What to do with pets when a disaster strikes and people are forced to evacuate is a subject of discussion for many animal-loving CNN.com readers.
Waldo Canyon Fire: Staying in a shelter
- We've been through this. We're a military family stationed at the United States Air Force Academy in CO. When we went through the Waldo Canyon Fire this past June, one of the things that made our evacuation so much easier was that the staff at Ft. Carson Army Base had a special shelter set up for families with pets. I know it made the horrible experience of the fire easier to deal with, especially for our children who would have been devestated if we had to leave our two dogs back at home. Of course there is an added liability when animals are permitted in a shelter, but there's also an added calming factor...it's amazing what sitting down and petting an animal can do for a person. I applaude the organizations who stepped up and have helped pet owners in the areas affected by Sandy...it means more to those evacuees than you'll ever realize.
Saving pets from a building fire
- It also is not an option if we would leave our dogs or cat. The dogs and cat are every bit as much of our family as when our children were little and living with us. I know that the same goes for all of our children and their pets. When our house burned to the ground a few years back my youngest son (an Army Reserve fire fighter) who happened to be visiting us, evacuated his little sister, 2 neices (1 and 2 years old), his girl friend (now his wife), his Mother, 4 dogs and one cat, then chased a scared dog for about an hour. Now ask again what we should do with them.
In hurricane and tornado: A decision to stay home
- When everyone else evacuated, I rode out Hurricane Georges in my home in Mobile, AL, with my dogs. I left my underground shelter for my neighbors during the tornado swarm of 2011 and stayed with my dogs in my house in Athens, AL. They have saved my life before, and I won't repay them by abandoning them. Dogs are a gift from God. They help the blind to see. They help the sick to live richer, more independent lives. They find the drugs and bombs targeted for us. They find our lost loved ones. They comfort us in times of sadness. What a sad, bleak, dangerous world this place would be if there were no dogs! And THAT is why I would die for them.
How some commenters prepare
- As pet owners, we can't leave these issues to last minute evacuations. It's important to have an emergency plan and understand vital information before we are left with little or no options for our pets. There is just no question that my animals would come with me. It is inhumane and unacceptable to leave them to die because I failed to prepare for their safety. And yes, I evacuated as instructed and followed my plan. Abby and Bailey were with us and all are safe.
- Glad to hear.....yes back-up plans that include animal members of the household needs to be mandatory. Hopefully more and more organizations, agencies etc. will work with city/town officials in making this part of rescue preparation. Many lives are lost because of refusal to leave their animal companions....this can be prevented.
What if pets can't be accommodated?
- I do believe provisions should be made for pets in evacuation situations, but I believe pets should only be allowed in shelters that can accommodate them in a separate room or facility. In light of the many human lives tragically lost during this hurricane, I think it's unfair, insensitive and, frankly, crass, for the ASPCA to equate the lives of pets with the lives of a child or spouse, and unfair for any entity to mandate that all shelters accommodate pets if the shelters do not have the facilities to do so separately from accommodations for humans. I (like a number of people) have been severely allergic to dogs and cats since I was a child, and would be unable to stay at a shelter with pets in the same room or space for more than an hour or two without suffering a severe asthma attack. Hours or days in that situation could be deadly. Is the life of a pet worth more than the life of a person or multiple people? Should an allergic child and that child's family have to choose between risking that child's life in a shelter with a pet, or risking the entire family's life outside a shelter, so that you can keep your pet with you? If you want to nobly risk your life for your pet, that's your choice. But please don't force me to risk mine.
- Pet owners have an obligation to have an evacuation plan including their pets. Buy a crate if you don't own one. Place you dog in the crate and the crate in you car with a leash. If for any reason you find a high and dry storm shelter that won't allow your dog in, leave the dog in the car and visit it every hour or so for water and a short walk. Your dog will survive not eating for 24 hrs. and will poop all the less. While traveling, I have stopped at "no pet" hotels and my dog was fine in the car overnight.
- The county in which I live on the Gulf Coast has instituted pet friendly shelters in which portable kennels are provided for those families whose members include four legged friends. Although it is a bit of extra expense, and pet owners are encouraged to bring their own kennels if they have them, it has made evacuations more acceptable to many who might otherwise have chosen to risk their lives rather than leave their pets.
- It would be great to see something pop up in regards to temporary foster homes...people are always eager to help and it would be amazing in situations like these if you could call your local shelter/animal hospital or even just an emergency set up that is handling cases with animals and they could give you a list of willing families that would temporarily care for your pets until the owner was able too post disaster!
Some even bought vehicles
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