After Hurricane Katrina came ashore in New Orleans and the aftermath of destruction from all of the flooding, I joined an online group of volunteers trying to track down the displaced owners to help reunite them with their pets. In 2005, facebook didn't exist. Many people didn't use cell phones yet. Trying to track down people when their homes are flooded, the electricity is out and you have no idea where they went was a challenge. Our group was responsible for helping to reunite over 1000 pets with their owners.
Hurricane Harvey just struck the Houston area. The flooding after the storm reminds me so much of Katrina. People were caught off guard. Many had to abandon their homes in the middle of the night to save their lives and to save their kids lives. Some may have been forced to leave their pets. Some may have thought it wouldn't be that bad and they'd be able to return soon. Just like Katrina, some Houston pet owners ended up leaving their pets behind.
I am not here to judge. I think until you are in that situation, you don't know what you'd really do. I don't have children whose safety I need to ensure so I'd like to think I would rescue my own dogs. But do you know what? My dogs weigh 80 and 90 lbs. I can't carry either one of them and I certainly can't carry them both. I can't imagine if something happened in the middle of the night, there was no power so I couldn't see and the water was rising. My heart breaks for the people forced to make these decisions. Instead of judging, we should say a prayer for them. Pray that their souls have peace because I know if I were ever forced to make these types of decisions, I don't know that I could live with the guilt if I left.
Sadly some of the pets that died in Harvey were being rescued. They were in boats on their way to safety but some got washed overboard. Some got scared and jumped. What I would hope is that I would have enough warning to know if I might be in danger so that I could leave in advance with my dog. I don't live in a flood zone but if I did, I would be one of the first ones out. I'd load up my car and hit the road to safe, higher ground.
So, what can we do to try and ensure our pet's safety, follow these tips:
- Make certain your pet's collars are on and that the information on the tags is up to date
- Microchip your pet. Make sure you contact the microchip company and register the chip to you. This is a free service. If you've moved or changed cell phones, contact the chip company and update your information.
- Have current copies of your pet's vaccines. You might need them if you go to a shelter or hotel.
- Have enough water, food and medicine for you and your pet for several days.
- Charge your cell phone.
- Fill your car with gas.
The biggest tip I have is to plan in advance. My thoughts are with everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma and I hope these pet safety tips help.