December 2008 Issue

Disaster Help: In the Wake of Hurricane Ike

It's absolutely critical that you have an emergency plan in place for your pets. Here's why.

As a result of Hurricane Ike, the Houston SPCA rescued more than 1800 animals; fed/watered 500 animals that were left in their homes by evacuating families; placed more than 450 pets in temporary foster homes, and celebrated nearly 400 miraculous reunions. Prior to Hurricane Ike making landfall, the Houston SPCA worked in concert with other area shelters: Dogs and cats were relocated from the Houston SPCA to shelters in outlying areas, so that dogs and cats from coastal shelters in danger of destruction could be moved to safety in Houston. In addition, the Houston SPCA coordinated evacuation efforts for owners in need of crates, carriers, muzzles, leashes and other travel items necessary to safely evacuate their beloved pets with them to shelters, hotels and other temporary living arrangements. The question remains, of course, why were so many pets left behind when owners had more than a week to prepare a safe evacuation? Under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006, state and local emergency preparedness authorities were required to accommodate households with pets or service animals in their evacuation plans. "The common reasons we heard [for leaving pets behind] were, ‘We didn’t think we’d be gone so long,’ ‘We left food on the table,’ or they’d say, ‘We thought they’d be fine,’" relates Meera Nandlal, public relations manager for the Houston SPCA in Houston, Texas.

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