Leaving pets behind when disaster strikes can jeopardize both human and animal lives
August 31, 2010 — As communities along the East Coast prepare for the possible impact of Hurricane Earl, United Animal Nations (UAN), a national animal protection organization that sheltered 2,100 displaced animals after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is reminding residents to take their pets with them if they evacuate.
Pet owners can jeopardize their own safety and disrupt disaster relief efforts by refusing to evacuate, or by leaving their animals behind and attempting to rescue them later. Loose animals can also pose a health and safety risk for humans.
UAN advises pet owners to keep animals safe with the following steps:
- Bring all pets indoors. Pets left to fend for themselves in high winds and heavy rain can get injured, lost, starve and hamper human evacuation and recovery efforts. Keeping pets inside makes it easier for you to round them up if you have to evacuate.
- Never leave pets behind. If you evacuate, take your pets with you. It’s the surest way to guarantee their safety and make sure you are not separated by the storm.
- Identify evacuation locations in advance. Visit www.uan.org to find a list of Web sites with searchable databases of pet-friendly hotels. Homes of friends or relatives and boarding kennels out of the range of the storm’s projected path also make good evacuation locations.
- Assemble a disaster kit for each pet that includes food, water, medications, a crate and photos of your pet(s). This kit will prove useful if roads are blocked, stores are closed or you must evacuate.
- Make sure all pets have an identification tag and permanent microchip so they can be found if lost or separated from you.
“Countless people who fled Hurricane Katrina left their pets behind, thinking they would be back in a day or two, but weeks passed before they could return home and by then it was much too late,” said UAN president Nicole Forsyth. “We don’t want to see Hurricane Earl cause the same kind of heartbreak, so we implore pet owners to heed any evacuation warnings and move their families and their pets to safety as quickly as possible.”
Through its volunteer-driven Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), UAN provides free temporary sheltering for communities that become overwhelmed by natural disasters or other crises. EARS volunteers are specially trained to set up and operate temporary animal shelters, where they feed and care for displaced animals until they can be reunited with their families or placed in new homes.
Visit www.uan.org/disastertips for other pet disaster planning information.
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief, financial assistance and humane education.