Severe storms and flooding this week remind us that natural disasters can strike at any time. Suddenly and with little warning our lives may become disrupted, transportation may become impeded, and homes may become uninhabitable. It is important to prepare ahead of time for such events and to include our pets in our planning.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, emergency shelters rarely accommodated pets. Today, disaster response authorities frequently incorporate family pets into their planning. In fact, the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act) of 2006 ensures that any state asking for federal assistance in emergency situations must have plans for accommodating pets and service animals during evacuations. However, there is no guarantee that your particular locality will be able to offer emergency shelter for pets in every circumstance. Disaster planning still needs to start with the pet owner.