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Hurricane Katrina of 2005 is still fresh in many of our minds as we start to evaluate the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
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Disaster prevention and relief cover a lot of ground, and some of us forget the family pet is a part of that equation. Back in 2005, residents of New Orleans were told to leave their pets behind, that animals would not be accepted in shelters and would only be a burden to the relief efforts.
Some people, heartbroken by the order, complied and others, chose to risk death to remain with their faithful pet. During Katrina, an estimated 70,000 pets died during the storm.
The number of people requiring rescue was higher as a result. People who chose to take their dogs with them were turned away from shelters or told to release their beloved pets. Once such Katrina case received the attention of the Nation and quick legislative action of Congress.
Snowball, a small white dog, was taken from the arms of a little boy who, with his family, was boarding a bus to safety. Pets were not allowed on the bus. The little boy cried so hard at the separation that he vomited.
The case of Snowball cast a critical light on our pets as parts of our family. In an overwhelming majority vote, Congress passed legislation to mandating that local and state authorities who want federal emergency funds must include pets in disaster plans.
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Fast forward to today and the terrible events of Hurricane Harvey, legislation, planning, and relief was already in place to help families with pets. No pet was to be left behind during Harvey, but the relief planning was not perfect. We will still hear of sad statistics and heartbreak concerning the pets of Houston.
However, the outlook is much better than in the days of Katrina and organizations are also acting to help by providing much-needed supplies, volunteers, and funds to help keep the whole family together.