• Hurricane Irma: Pet owners have rights during evacuation, shelter during storms

    By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    As first Hurricane Harvey closed in and left a path of destruction in its wake, one thing you haven’t seen as much as in prior hurricanes is abandoned pets, cowering on the roofs of flooded homes.

    That’s because after horrible scenes from Hurricane Katrina, many states, as well as the federal government, have set regulations on how rescue crews are to deal with family pets.

    >> Read more trending news

    The turning point was the hurricane that battled New Orleans in 2005. Many people, approximately 44 percent, didn’t leave their homes, not only because of their possessions, but they wouldn’t leave their pets behind, and they couldn’t take them to a shelter, The Washington Post reported.

    >> Hurricane Irma: Woman who’s lived in Fla. Keys for 50 years decides she’s not sticking around 

    A small dog named Snowball became a rallying point. He was taken from a child’s arms who was getting on a bus to go to Texas as an evacuee. The bus did not allow pets. The Associated Press reported at the time that the boy cried so hard when his pet was taken, that he vomited.

    The Louisiana SPCA said that more than 100,000 pets were left behind in Katrina. As many as 70,000 of them died in the Gulf Coast.

    After Katrina, more than 30 states have a law, a plan or both, that spell out planning for pets and service animals.

    >> Delta flight from Puerto Rico flies through narrow path of safety amid Hurricane Irma

    Florida, which is in the bullseye of Hurricane Irma, has a state law that deals with emergency sheltering of pets.

    >> Photos: 14 essential tips to keep your pets safe during hurricane season 

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has a plan spelled out. It designates what qualifies as a family pet that can have protection -- an animal like a dog, cat or rabbit -- vs. one that does not qualify, like reptiles, fish, insects or spiders.

    It also explains the PETS Act, which was signed into law in October 2006. Under the act, FEMA can rescue, care, shelter and help those with pets and service animals after an emergency or disaster. It also covers the pets themselves.

    >> Does Zello work without Wi-Fi? What you need to know about the walkie-talkie app ahead of Hurricane Irma

    The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine said that there will be emergency shelters that will accept pets and their owners, and Gov. Rick Scott has asked hotels that normally say no to animals to lift their ban, USAToday reported.

    In a statement from the UFC’s Veterinary Medicine program, officials reminded that, “If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet. There are many pet-friendly sheltering options allow the whole family to stay together.”

    Next Up: