Will there be less lost cats and dogs after Hurricane Harvey than after Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster for cats and dogs as well as for people. We are told that a quarter of a million cats and dogs and other pets were left behind and about 150,000 died during the hurricane and its aftermath.

My research indicates that one of the reasons for this very high fatality rate is because cats and dogs had to be left behind by the authorities who were rescuing people.

The people who did not evacuate the area waited for assistance with their cats and dogs. Help came but not for the animals. Often rescuers refused to take animals on board. They insisted that pets be left behind. Dogs and cats were left on rooftops to die of starvation and dehydration. When it was over, rescuers returned to find their lost cats and dogs. Sometimes they succeeded and these stories were highlighted in online media. But there were obviously tens of thousands of tragic stories.

The government had underestimated the bond between pets and their owners. This led to a change in the law which is designed to avoid the sort of situation that occurred during Hurricane Katrina.

Less than a year after hurricane Katrina, the Pet Evacuation Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006 was created.

As I understand it, this statute places demands upon state and local governments to factor pets into their evacuation plans. It authorises the use of funds for rescue workers to construct shelter facilities for the temporary accommodation of cat and dog owners with their pets (and service animals). In short, it appears to place an obligation upon the authorities to keep pets with their owners when rescuing them after a natural catastrophe such as Hurricane Harvey.

Over the forthcoming days, I would expect the online media to report on the rescue of cats and dogs. I would expect there to be some stories and I would also hope that the success rate is far higher than in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck.

During Hurricane Katrina a substantial number of pet owners stayed behind with their cats and dogs, shunning the chance of rescue for themselves. Some of these people no doubt perished. It highlights the very strong bond between animal and human. During rescue situations such as those that took place during Hurricane Katrina it does highlight how humans are prioritised over animals in these emergency situations. That weakness has now been dealt with and we await to see whether the objectives in 2006 statute have been met.

5 thoughts on “Will there be less lost cats and dogs after Hurricane Harvey than after Katrina?”

  1. It is upon the pet owner to have their pet microchipped and have a collar and tags on hand or on the animal at all times. Every pet owner should have copies of their pets vaccination records with their own important documents like SS card, Birth Certificate and a copy of their drivers license. A baggy of kibble or cans of food in your evac pack. All pets should have a carrier or a harness and leash NOT a COLLAR but a harness. If you dog is high strung you might consider getting them used to muzzle. Rescue can refuse to take an aggressive animal.
    Most of all please get your pet microchipped and registered with the correct information.
    The burden was put on the government to make sure people would be able to evacuate with their pets. It’s up to the pet owners to help by being orderly and having control over their animals.
    I’m not sure what the limit is for evacuating pets from a single household. If you have many pets you might want to find out. We love our pets but it is unrealistic to think you and your 10 dogs or cats should go before human beings.
    Please people when you leave let the horses out of the barn. They drowned in their stalls during Katrina.

      • Many people put their horses in the barn to protect them from the weather. Some people left their dogs tied to porches most likely calculated in their minds to be high enough with the idea they would be back in a day. Just bad decisions made by lots of good people who probably thought their dogs and cats were going with them.
        Chip your pets and make sure you include things like an email address. Something you can access anywhere there is an online source like a public computer. There are numerous reports that cell phones are failing due to the moisture. When I work outside in the rain mine goes in a baggy. Looks like a damn is going to overflow now.

        • So true. Good idea about the phone, tho. Mine is water proof as long as all the plug-inopenings are closed, so I don’t need to worry about that.


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