duct tape, plastic sheeting, Meow Mix…

Here’s a bit of post-Katrina fallout I hadn’t heard about. Last year, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which requires local jurisdictions to include in their emergency evacuation plans means to evacuate pets along with people. As a result, counties around DC are coming up with all sorts of pet evacuation contingencies, including mobile centers stocked with pet carriers and supplies so that people don’t have to abandon their pets in the event of an emergency.

It’s controversial, of course, and I’m sure there will be more than a few of you who will chime in to tell me how ridiculous it is, but I think it’s great, and here’s why:

  1. Some pet owners WILL refuse to evacuate if their pets can’t come too. Right or wrong, it’s reality, so making provision for domestic animals will result in human lives being saved.
  2. Pets are valuable calming influences in stressful times, particularly for children and the elderly. Having to live with the image of your beloved companion fending for himself and wondering where his humans are, on the other hand, is only going to make the emergency more traumatic. A bag of kibble and a crate seem like a reasonable investment in heading off additional personal trauma.
  3. Remember those lawsuits by Katrina victims whose abandoned pets had been adopted out by shelters?
  4. $20,000 seems like a lot of Homeland Security money until you think about all the money spent on clueless airport screeners who can’t spot a gun on an X-ray but who won’t hesitate to confiscate your 3 oz. of shampoo because you forgot to bring along a plastic baggie. Twenty grand on something that actually will save lives seems cheap in comparison.
  5. While I agree that pets are less important than people, they’re still living creatures that we have taken under our care. If we CAN save them, why shouldn’t we?

9 Comments so far

  1. darpino (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 11:28 am

    What’s next the Invisble Friends and Safety Blankets Evacuation Act – or as it will be popularly referred to, ‘The Binkie Act’?

    What about the precious time wasted in a crisis saving somebody’s Mastiff while a house full of humans is quickly filling with water two houses down?

    I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. At least there will be more things to kill and eat when the food rations run out.

  2. wayan (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    Screw the pets & blankets – I want a laptop evacuation priority plan and mobile WiFi support centers!

    I ain’t leaving my apartment, not even if the DHS bashes in my door to drag me out, unless I have both. My pets, fish, would welcome freedom from my glass encagement of them, but I cannot function with Internet.

    I am a confirmed wifi addict

  3. Jon (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

    1) If you refuse to evacuate, I’m not going to cry at your funeral.
    2) Prozac is also a calming influence, and cheaper.
    3) No. Any reasonable judge would throw out those lawsuits.
    4) Wasting money on one thing is no reason to do it somewhere else.
    5) Why don’t we save all the indigenous animals first? They have a greater claim to being deserving of our help.

    I’m mostly kidding, but considering how badly we messed up taking care of the humans affected by Katrina, I have a hard time getting worked up over plans about saving pets.

  4. Brock (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

    If $20,000 is enough to save one person, I’m OK with leaving the cats and dogs behind.

  5. Tiffany (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 1:58 pm

    That, of course, misses the point. While, I suspect, most pet owners would leave Fluffy at home if the house was filling with water and that were the only way, the idea of any such evacuation is to get people out BEFORE that happens. Instead of having people try to wait it out at home with Fido and hope the storm isn’t too bad, it makes more sense to just accommodate Fido and let his owners bring him along while everyone can still get to a shelter center on their own power. No one is talking about putting the mastiff on a harness and hauling him into the helicopter before moving on to the family down the street- they’re talking about making shelters accommodate pets so that people don’t stay at home long enough to get stuck on their roofs and NEED helicopter/boat rescue.

  6. Doug (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

    Considering the botched job performed by FEMA and other agencies, I’d have to say that lawmakers would have better things to do than waste their time and our tax dollars on a bunch of house pets.

  7. Outta here! (unregistered) on February 22nd, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

    Brock, if you give me $20,000 cash, I’ll evacuate myself.

    In fact, if FEMA had dangled $20K for each New Orleans resident that passed the Louisiana border, headed north, it would’ve been a faster, cheaper, and way more effective evacuation.

  8. Doug (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

    Has anyone read The Storm? Just curious.

  9. sa-ra (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 12:02 am

    i d never leave my pet. with or w/t the bill.
    still, sorry, but emergenci is by definition you ve gotta focus on the most important – the people.
    as for the arguments. i can argue well i am a balerina. and someone can argue well otherwise.

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