Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pets Figure into Evacuation Plans

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pets Figure into Evacuation Plans

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- Although Hurricane Bertha swept by coastal Georgia

with little damage earlier this month, it left many pet owners

worried in its wake.

"At present, there are no places designated for people to take

their pets during an evacuation," said Amanda Jones, disaster

services specialist for the Glynn County Chapter of the American

Red Cross. "It is a real concern for many people. Pets are part

of the family for many people and they don't want to leave them,

behind."

Glynn County Red Cross officials are attempting to develop a

plan that would open emergency pet shelters in Ware, Bacon and

Coffee counties, which are designated as host counties for human

evacuees from the county during a disaster.

Until then, pet owners can take some precautions on their own,

Jones said.

"People need to include arrangements for their pets when they

make up a disaster evacuation plan for their families," Jones

said.

Many people refuse to evacuate because they have no place to

take their pets during a hurricane, a practice emergency

authorities say is dangerous to both humans and animals.

There also is the emotional trauma of leaving a pet behind,

Jones said.

"People already will be stressed out about the hurricane. They

don't need the added stress of worrying about what will happen

to their pets," Jones said.

Andrew and other recent storms are taking steps to address pet

problems during disasters.

to develop a pet protection plan for hurricanes and other

disasters. Under the plan, each of Florida's 67 counties must

devise ways to shelter pets when evacuation of high-risk or

flood-prone areas is ordered in the face of disaster.

Georgia does not have such a law. Glynn, Camden, McIntosh and

Chatham counties would be evacuated in the event of a Category 2

or stronger hurricane, and no public animal shelters will be

available in the coastal Georgia counties to house animals

during a storm, Jones said.

Private kennels and veterinary hospitals most likely also will

be closed for the duration of the evacuation, county and humane

society officials say, and pets are not allowed at most

emergency shelters. …

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