FEMA Should Allow People To Take Their Pets When They’re Being Rescued

by John Hawkins | September 8, 2005 3:14 pm

FEMA may think they’re being ultra-responsible and making sure that relief efforts are maximally efficient by telling people that they can’t bring their pets out of New Orleans, but I think they’re being foolish.

Not only is it monstrously cruel to force people to leave their pets to die in that flooded, polluted, hellhole, there are plenty of stories out there that confirm that this is actually hampering rescue efforts. Here are two:

From Monsters and Critics[1]:

“Steve Miller of Dutchtown, La., said he`s been using his boat to rescue stranded residents since Friday, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

…Miller said he has encountered many people who refused to be evacuated without their pets, which is frustrating him.

He also doesn`t understand why FEMA won`t allow victims to take their pets with them.”

From the Kansas City Star[2]:

“A problem-solver from Baton Rouge, La., came up with a nifty solution Wednesday to the classic animal problem: people who won’t evacuate New Orleans without their pets, vs. rescuers who won’t take pets.

Carlos Padial rented a bus after he learned that a friend’s daughter, Robin Schaffer, 43, was car-less in New Orleans with her two cats. Padial won the governor’s permission to enter the city and take out a busload of pets and their owners. Schaffer promoted the opportunity far and wide. A local radio station got wind of it.”

In either case, whether you’re talking about taking the animals with the rescuers or leaving them behind, it’s going to hamper rescue efforts. So, if you’re going to err, err on the side of saving people’s pets.

If you don’t, mark my words, you’re going to end up with people dying because they won’t leave their pets behind — in fact, I’d be willing to bet money that’s already happened over and over again.

Maybe you think people are dumb to be that loyal to their pets, maybe you don’t, but accept the fact that there is a large percentage of the population who looks at things that way. So if people insist on taking their pets, FEMA needs to step up to take the animals.

*** Update #1 ***: From the comments section:

Pets are not left behind because the rescuers want to be cruel to animals, but because they have to save human lives first. What do you tell the guy that says “Bessy the cow” is his beloved pet and he is not leaving without her? Or the old lady with 50 cats, 10 dogs, several brids, and a goat? label me cruel if you want to, but this is about common sense. — AlexinCT

I agree 100% with that.

Animals do come before humans and if there’s a choice between rescuing two human beings and rescuing a human being and his pet Boa Constrictor, that’s an easy decision.

I’d also add that if you want to take your cow or 40 chickens[3], you should understand that you may have to be moved to the end of the line for rescues.

Yet and still, if somebody wants to take a pet, he/she should be able to take a pet. That may mean he/she may have to wait longer to be rescued. So be it.

But, I would submit that — especially at this late date in the rescue operation — the refusal to take pets has the potential to cost a lot more lives than it saves. You don’t want people hanging around in flooded, disease ridden houses for days on end, hoping against hope that they’ll find some way to save their dog, too.

FEMA needs to just bite the bullet and take the people and their pets out of there.

  1. Monsters and Critics: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/northamerica/article_1046674.php/Rescue_rule_on_pets_hampers_efforts
  2. Kansas City Star: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/nation/12586187.htm
  3. 40 chickens: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/northamerica/article_1046674.php/Rescue_rule_on_pets_hampers_efforts

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