Hurricane season is here, and the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness is getting ready for whatever will come. Not only are they preparing for human evacuations, but now they also are mandated under federal and state law to make provisions for pet evacuations.
During Hurricane Katrina, there were numerous heart-wrenching stories of people being forced to leave their pets, cats being abandoned for weeks or months, and chained dogs drowning in backyards. The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that 70,000 pets remained in the city during the storm, and of those 70,000, only about 15,000 were rescued.
This year, the city is preparing their evacuation plans for pet owners and their pets so what happened last year will not occur again. The city’s plan states that:
For the city’s part, in compliance with the state and federal laws enacted after Katrina, people who do not have their own way out of town will be allowed to bring their pets with them when they report to one of the 13 pickup points scattered around New Orleans. The animals â€” provided they’re in carriers â€” will be allowed on buses used to ferry evacuees to other designated sites outside the city; from there, the state takes over, using buses to move people to a network of shelters and “climate controlled vehicles” â€” namely, tractor trailers â€” to haul their cats and dogs. Ideally, owners and pets will be sheltered in close proximity; displaced people will have, if not the comforts of home, at least the comfort of a beloved pet. And shelter operators won’t be saddled with the care and feeding of someone else’s animal.