The Animal Advocate: Evacuating During Hurricane With Your Pets Should Be No-Brainer
By Rebecca Stroud // August 16, 2015
ABOVE VIDEO: Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires, blizzards, terrorism … no matter where one lives, no one is immune from a potential natural or man-made disaster disrupting our lives. Most of us have probably given very little thought to what we might do if displaced by a disaster, and even less to what we would do with our pets. Dr. Heather Case, director of the Scientific Activities Division at the American Veterinary Medical Association, talks about incorporating pets into a disaster preparedness plan.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock trying to stay cool, you should be well aware that we‘re in the middle of hurricane season.
Whether these erratic tropical cyclones ultimately reach our shores is almost moot because evacuation plans are put into place if one even hints at heading our way.
Ergo, then comes the decision to stay put or go. And those with pets face an even bigger storm surge of worry, especially those with large animals like horses.
In my particular case, we have no problem whatsoever. Dogs go where we go, period.
If that means packing up the van with blankets, pillows, food and dishes, toys, medicines, ID, then hitting the road and driving to nowhere, so be it. For never would I leave my pets behind with a bowl of chow, a bathtub full of water, and say “bye-bye” as I walk out the door.
Therefore, in my not-so-humble opinion, if you are physically able and have a dependable vehicle, evacuating with your pets should be a no-brainer.
However, there are those with extenuating circumstances who truly need help. Among them are the isolated, immobile elderly whose animals are a vital part of their lives or pet owners who don’t have the transportation to high-tail it every time a hurricane looms on the horizon.
Witness Katrina and the tragic aftermath of dead people found with their dead animals, or the thousands of abandoned pets as residents were bused out of the area with no other recourse than to leave them behind. A heartbreaking mess if ever there was one and it could just as easily happen here in Florida.
Although local governments dole out buckets of advice regarding evacuation, they truly have little to offer in the way of dealing with animals. Suggestions run the small gamut from making reservations at an establishment that allows pets to staying with friends or relatives.
Newsflash! In a state that has more transplants than bugs, just where do they think these folks waiting with open arms and pooper-scoopers are? For the most part, they’re either the next-door neighbor who has to skedaddle out of town just like everyone else or they’re in New York.
As for making advance reservations at pet-friendly motels, on the surface, this sounds like a good plan. Some sunny morning, calls can be made all ding-dong day compiling a list of phone numbers a mile long, having them at the ready for when Hurricane Harriett finally makes up her mind to visit.
Yet, when the wind begins to blow, sometimes getting through to the Dog’s Inn isn’t as easy as it sounds, or it’s already full to the max.
Needless to say, during any natural disaster, saving lives is of paramount importance. But, in too many cases, saving those lives also means saving the lives of pets.
Indeed there are pet-friendly public shelters but, unfortunately, most are few and far between and are open in mandatory evacuation areas only. So those with beloved animals are simply left to their own devices or, if unable to help themselves, are forced into a no-win situation.
Emergency management, are you listening?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Stroud is a former newspaper reporter and columnist. She is now an independent author who has published numerous books and stories, including The Killing Sands, Murder 9.0, Dragon’s Moon, Devil’s Moon, Do Unto Others, The Animal Advocate, A Three-Dog Night, Zellwood: A Dog Story and Jinxed.
In addition to writing, Stroud is an editor and avid animal lover. She lives in Cocoa with her husband and their adored catahoula-boxer mix.
To contact Stroud, e-mail RebeccaStroud@aol.com