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Not without my dog

In the wake of recent hurricanes, disaster-response officials seem to be coming around to the realization that caring for people in an emergency means caring for pets as well. If forced to choose between leaving pets behind or stay behind with pets, many people will choose the latter, even if it increases their own chances of dying.

To address this new reality, and acknowledge the strength of the human-animal bond, changes seem to be in the works. At the federal level, legislation has been introduced to force local and state officials to include pets in disaster plans if they're to get federal funds. And at the local level, officials are starting to push for providing shelters for people and their pets, such as in Florida's Palm Beach County:

Palm Beach County commissioners said Tuesday they were ready to cajole, shame, beg -- anything that might work -- School Board members to get them to consider allowing pets at Palm Beach County schools when they are used as hurricane shelters.

For months, [county] commissioners have been pushing county emergency planners to find ways to provide shelters for pet owners and their animals.

Their interest was heightened by Hurricane Katrina, in which many pet owners were forced to make agonizing decisions to either not evacuate in the face of peril or abandon their beloved pets.

The entire story is here. -- Gina Spadafori

September 28, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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