Give Me Shelter

We all remember the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But the devastation of these two storms wasn’t limited to human loss and suffering.

As their owners fled for safety, many companion animals were left behind, sometimes chained up or caged without access to food, water, or shelter. They were left to die in agony as the waters rose around them with no hope of escape.

Five easy steps + a bonus step

Hurricane season begins on June 1, and we don’t want history to repeat itself.

May is the time to prepare for hurricane season, which runs June 1 through November 30. Please take these simple steps to make sure your pets are part of your family’s emergency plan:

  1. Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
  2. Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
  3. Get a portable pet carrier or crate and help your dog get comfortable in it.
  • Know where you will go and how you will get there (friends or family out of harm’s way, hotel, or local shelter if you are unable to leave the area)
  1. Prepare a doggie go-bag with all the essentials, including food for several days and any medications
  2. Extra leash or harness
  3. Bonus step: Ask lawmakers to pass humane tethering legislation

Of course, even when we’re not faced with a natural disaster, animals left chained up outside in the elements are at risk of severe injury and even death. Deaths due to freezing temperatures or strangulation/starvation/dehydration happen frequently. Because of this, it’s critical that we pass our tethering bill next session.

Does your county have a plan to help with pets in a disaster?

After Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Congress amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make sure that states include specific plans for people with companion and service animals in the event of emergencies.

And then in 2007, we helped pass “Simba’s Law” in Texas, which required the Division of Emergency Management to “assist political subdivisions in developing plans for the humane evacuation, transport, and temporary sheltering of service animals and household pets in a disaster.”

Simba’s law directed local emergency management authorities to establish Animal Issues Committees through the Texas Animal Health Commission.

Is your city or county adhering to Simba’s Law? We encourage you to contact your local county commissioner about whether appropriate steps have been taken to accommodate companion animals during emergencies.


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