I am always concerned when I hear accounts of people preparing some for themselves and none for their pets. I like how Mr. Robinson addresses the subject in this article I read this week in the Harrison Daily.

Pets at large – by Dave Robinson

When preparing for a disaster most folks have figured out plans for themselves, their children and some even prepare for their neighbors. What some fail to consider is man’s best friend. An unspoken rule is that if we take on the responsibility of a pet, then they are just that: a responsibility. We are charged with feeding, sheltering and providing medical care, in sickness and in health. In good times and bad. Sounds like marriage vows. The reality is some folks have the attitude that if everything melts down, they can simply abandon their pets, grab the kids and run for the hills.

The reality is in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina thousands of animals were rescued and brought to animal shelters. Boat captains and helicopter pilots refused to load pets in order to hold more people. As a result, many refused to evacuate without their pets. Some field hospitals allowed pets to enter with their patients while those who evacuated from the Superdome were not allowed to take their pets with them.

One source reports that animals that didn’t die in Katrina were left to fend for themselves. In the end, over 600,000 animals were either killed or stranded in the aftermath Several years later, much of the city looks as though it has not been touched since the hurricane and the abandoned sections of New Orleans have been taken over by weeds, blight and wild dogs.

One of the often overlooked hazards following a disaster is that of packs of wild dogs roving the streets at will. Often unvaccinated, diseased and starving, they pose a danger to children, the elderly or anyone not expecting to see a wild dog.

As a young Air Policeman in Vietnam, we were faced with the same issue at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon. Our unit assigned one person to “control” the problem, The acceptable solution for the time was a nicotine-laced dart gun. Similar to a tranquilizer gun, the nicotine poison provided an immediate solution. But then wartime solutions are rarely acceptable during peacetime. (No hate mail please.)

In the case of Katrina, private foundations set up shelters all around the area in an attempt to provide care for abandoned pets. Unfortunately the problem was larger than the ability to house the animals and many unneutered, hungry feral animals still prowl the streets and vacant lots of the city.

Here are some suggestions offered by petmd.com to prepare your pet for a disaster. Get your dog “chipped” with current contact information. Be sure to have extra dog food (or cat food) on hand. Learn where your pet likes to hide when frightened. Make sure you have a pet carrier for transportation. Carry a picture of your pet in the event you are separated. Another good resource is http://www.redcross.org.

While I think a lot of animals are destroyed for reasons that are not good enough and that saddens me, there are many times where that is the most decent thing to do. Feral animals are a danger to be around. Especially when their background is unknown to the person approaching them. It is hard for me to believe that someone would send him hate mail for listing a reasonable action like he did. Let me get back on track though by saying, remember your animals in your preparations. They depend on you as much as your family does. While I do not place animals’ value above people’s, they are beings that deserve more than being turned out to fend for themselves or starve. Make preparations for them since they can’t do it themselves. If there is an instance where you can see the potential disaster coming, like a hurricane, don’t wait to the last moment to evacuate. If you must stay longer, find a place somewhere safely away for your pet to stay and go there as soon as possible. That will keep you both safe and together.

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