Written by PETA
The extent of Gustav's effect on the Gulf Coast and its animals is still being assessed, but it's clear that in the days preceding the hurricane, officials and citizens took seriously the critical importance of evacuating animals with their guardians. This first-ever joint effort on the part of government officials, animal protection groups, and citizens appears to have worked to a great degree so far!
Up 'til now, animal-related calls to PETA's office have been minimal and swiftly addressed. But now Hanna, Ike, and Josephine are following Gustav. With a dangerous hurricane season in full force, it's crucial to stay vigilant and have a plan ready to ensure the safety of your companion animals in case of an evacuation or other emergency. Our disaster preparedness checklist provides all the information you need to create a safe, effective plan to protect your companion animals.
Please make your plan before it's too late!
Written by Carrie Ann Harris
When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast three years ago, thousands of animals were left in death traps from which they couldn't escape. PETA's rescue teams saw them clinging to trees surrounded by toxic floodwaters, swimming madly toward rescuers who were not allowed to save them, and pacing, stranded, and left to die on rooftops and balconies. Some of the luckier animals were rescued by PETA and eventually reunited with their guardians. With Hurricane Gustav having made landfall (the extent of the flooding is not yet certain) near New Orleans, many area residents have vowed not to make the same mistake again and have learned that the only way to protect the entire family during a disaster is to evacuate with their animal companions.
Read the stories below of several families whose animals were rescued by and delivered back to New Orleans by PETA after Hurricane Katrina; these lucky ones have already evacuated to safety with their human families.
Sporty: Sporty's guardian refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina because he wouldn't leave his dog behind. As the tragedy unfolded and the levees broke, Sporty's guardian swam for two blocks in toxic waters with Sporty under his arm, only to realize that if he continued to fight the raging waters, neither of them would survive. He retreated, with Sporty, to the attic with food and water for both, and when rescue workers finally came, he was forbidden to take his dog with him. It took this kind, elderly man more than three months to track down his beloved dog, who was being fostered at PETA's Norfolk headquarters. Today, Sporty and his guardian are safe and sound; they have evacuated and are outside the storm's path.
Mary Lou: During Hurricane Katrina, the Estaveses stayed in their St. Bernard Parish home as long as they could before taking the last ferry out, but they were forbidden from taking their animals along. Afterward, they spent several weeks frantically searching for their lost dog before being reunited with Mary Lou, one of the 30+ dogs PETA had brought back to its Virginia office. The family has a plan this time around and has already evacuated to safety—with Mary Lou.
Licorice: Licorice's "mom" was in the hospital with her elderly mother at the time Hurricane Katrina hit, and despite her pleas with rescue workers and government agents, she wasn't allowed to enter her home to retrieve her toy poodle. The toxic floodwaters and the stress of being left to fend for herself had made Licorice quite ill and weak by the time rescue teams finally found her. Licorice was given vet care and fostered by PETA for months before we could track down her anxious human mom. Today, Licorice's guardian wouldn't dream of leaving her behind and has already evacuated the area with her family.
PETA was at work as soon as Gustav raised its first serious head above the clouds, trying to prevent another monumental tragedy for animals. More than a week before Hurricane Gustav's anticipated landfall, PETA sent Gulf Coast media markets our preparedness tips, reaching local residents with the lifesaving message that the calm before the storm is when they must safeguard their animals and offering instructions for evacuation. PETA's emergency team of volunteers is primed, and we await further developments. On Saturday, Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain announced that more than 160 trucks have been outfitted with pet crates to handle the evacuation and that companion animal shelters for animal guardians with "critical transportation needs" are ready for service during the Hurricane Gustav evacuation, saying, "We are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of Louisiana's pets.
Read the Full Update for People With Animals in Hurricane Gustav's Path Below
Residents who don't have transportation must immediately call their local parish office of emergency preparedness to arrange transportation to the animal-friendly shelters. Animals can come, too, but they must be in a carrier, with at least a three-day supply of food and other supplies packed and ready to go. If an animal weighs less than 15 lbs., he or she will be allowed to ride on the human transport bus. If he or she weighs more than 15 lbs., separate animal transport trucks will take him or her to the animal shelter. Residents: You are still responsible for your animals' care during their stay at these shelters, so please be prepared with supplies, animal identification, and sturdy carriers or leashes. (Please read PETA's disaster preparedness checklist, and be sure to visit animals as often as possible to provide food, water, and comfort.) Shelter locations may change because of weather, so please have your local parish office of emergency preparedness telephone number with you at all times! Parish pick-up points for transportation to the CTN pet shelters are expected to close as storm conditions become unsafe. People who have transportation are encouraged to evacuate to pet-friendly hotels for the duration of the evacuation. Lists of these hotels can be found at www.petswelcome.com and www.tripswithpets.com. Many hotels will relax their usual animal policy in an emergency, so call ahead and ask if your animals can come along.Citizens who are evacuating on their own and who may need sheltering assistance are urged to stop at shelter-information points along the evacuation route to receive a reservation for the nearest shelter with openings. Those shelters will open as mass-scale evacuations begin. Shelter-information points are located at:
The Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales and Parker Coliseum on LSU's Baton Rouge campus—which were used during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—will not be used as shelters during the Gustav evacuation.
Evacuees with large animals should contact their local LSU AgCenter county agent for information on what accommodations can be made for horses and livestock. The Agriculture Department office is open 24 hours a day to advise residents on pet and livestock issues. The phone number is 225-922-1234 or 1-800-558-9741. Evacuation guides for residents can be downloaded here.
Mississippi residents: The Humane Society of Southern Mississippi is operating a pet shelter on the grounds of the Harrison Central High School (the school building itself will be a shelter for humans). Evacuees should follow signs leading to the pet shelter when they arrive at the school. The shelter will open at 6 p.m. on August 31.For Mississippi residents without transportation, Gulf Transit will provide rides on school buses that will take people to the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, where they will be fed and cared for by MEMA until it is safe to return to the coast. Each person will be allowed to take only two bags. Small pets will be allowed but must be in a pet carrier and will count as one of the two bags. Pets will be taken to the Pet Shelter in Jackson. Owners must accompany their pets and be responsible for them at all times. Eligible pets include dogs, cats, birds, and pocket pets, with the exception of lizards and snakes. There will be no exceptions to these rules. The buses will be picking up people at the following locations:
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.