Pets in hurricane’s path getting better treatment

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Sept.1, 2008–The Kansas City Star reports that pets in Hurricane Gustav’s path have been getting better treatment this time around:

Three years after pet owners were reduced to tears while being forced to leave their dogs and cats in neighborhoods ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, emergency response officials are taking extraordinary care to ensure animal safety during Hurricane Gustav.

At the bus station, a designated pick-up point for evacuees, a pet registration center was set up under green tents. Dozens of white pet-traveling crates were stacked against the curb.

“We’re making sure the pets go where their owners go,” said Sandy Cochran, South Carolina state coordinator with United Animal Nations, who came to New Orleans to help with the effort. “During Katrina, there was really no plan for what to do with pets.


Before pet owners boarded a bus, they filed out paperwork about their animal and were given a paper bracelet with a code number on it, she said. That code number was then written on the traveling crate along with the names of the pet and owner.

The pets were loaded onto 18-wheel trucks, which follow their buses to their destination. Every two hours, the truck driver stops to check on the animals, which are fed, watered and kept cool.

A veterinarian was on stand-by at the registration tent to treat sick or injured animals, Cochran said. State officials said they requested about 150 trucks to help transport pets out of the city.

Thankfully, it seems the painful lessons learned during Katrina about how to care for pets in disaster situations are paying off in Hurricane Gustav. We are also very thankful for the disaster preparedness steps taken by the Best Friends Animal Society:

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As with Hurricane Katrina, our Rapid Response team was first on the ground last week, helping local agencies prepare for Gustav. Over the past few days, we’ve helped move hundreds of shelter animals out of the area, to neighboring states.

And today, when we heard people with pets were being turned away from evacuation buses (because they didn’t have pet carriers!), our team responded with three thousand pet carriers to be sure those folks could evacuate with their pets.

When we confirmed with officials that still some pet owners left pets behind, in back yards and tied to porches, our staff stayed on to help animal officials get those pets to shelter, too.