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:
- Tourist Welcome Center, U.S. 65 & 84, 1401 Carter St., Vidalia
- Tourist Welcome Center, 836 I-20 W., Tallulah
- Sammy’s Truck Stop, I-49, Exit 53, 3601 La. 115 W., Bunkie
- Med Express Office, 7525 U.S. 71, Alexandria
- LSU-Shreveport, P.E. Gym, 1 University Pl., Shreveport
- Pickering High School, 180 Lebleu Rd., Leesville
- Tourist Information Center, 8904 U.S. 165, Oberlin
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:
- Biloxi Jr. High School, Irish Hill Parking Lot
- Biloxi High School, Football Stadium on Richard Drive
- Yankie Stadium on Lee Street
- D’Iberville High School on Warrior Drive
- Milner Stadium on 38th Avenue
- Good Deeds Center on Madison Avenue
- West Harrison County Community Center on Espy Avenue
- Lizana Elementary School on Lizana School Road
- Saucier Elementary School on First Street
- Harrison Central Elementary on Dedeaux Road