It is now half a decade after Hurricane Katrina leveled parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. spcaLA‘s elite Disaster Response Team was called in to assist – and we did – sending medical, rescue personnel and supplies to the region. spcaLA was also called on to receive animal evacuees from the storm – which we did – healing, fostering and reuniting pets with their people. At this time of reflection, the country is discussing how slow, incomplete and disappointing the recovery has been. I believe something positive emerged from the sludge, leaving an important legacy and better future for companion animals everywhere.
The world watched in horror as people refused to leave their pets behind. Pundits discussed ad nauseam the “Sophie’s Choice” atmosphere of those desperate for rescue unable to choose which pet they could keep with them. The two most important lessons learned were the strength of the human animal bond and the weakness of federal, state and local disaster plans in their inclusion of pets in the emergency services protocols. In other words, those responsible for disaster preparedness did not understand that some people would rather die than leave a family pet behind.
Since the tragedy numerous states, including Louisiana and California, have mandated that animals be planned for in times of emergency. The federal government has done the same. The nation learned the importance and value of our pets, and the pets know that spcaLA will always be there to protect them.
Please – create a family disaster preparedness plan that includes pets, insist that your elected officials have a plan, and support your spcaLA’s Disaster Animal Response Team (DART)who will be there for you.