Lesson for FEMA: feed the dog
Should FEMA, state and local agencies include pets in future evacuation plans? Some people will say that's stupid, but the fact remains that many people risked their lives - and others' - for their pets (read more from the Washington Post: Strays of Hope), dramatically highlighting the difficulties in forcefully separating companion animals from their owners.
Yes, many people view their pets as children, and yes, images of pets are easy attention-getters. But the situation in the Gulf is beyond that; after losing one's home and all one's possessions, everything except a pet, imagine being told to abandon Fido to a slow death. Besides being illegal under state law, this might just seem insane to an evacuee who has lost so much already.
Kudos to the Navy people who built a kennel and solved the problem instead, and to every volunteer out there trying to help.
As noted in the first post of this blog, the family dog is not a watchdog any more, but more like a child to many owners. And a legislative trend is already underway in the U.S. shifting pet ownership from property rights to guardianship laws, reflecting the cultural norm of pets as 'one of the family.'
This is nothing new according to pet industry statistics. In fact, a staggering 93 percent of owners said they would risk their life for their pet, according to the American Animal Hospital Association's 2004 Pet Owner Survey.
So listen up, FEMA. Or at least turn on CNN. Fido may not be a child, but sure isn't a toaster oven either.
Pet Evac Roundup
PetSmart and FEMA
No-pet policy is 'a lousy plan'
Pets and hurricane Katrina
The dog as part of the family