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I live in New Orleans. An older lady...I live in low-income housing. I have a beloved darling--my cat. And it's hurricane season.

In addition, I still have a driver's license. But my Camaro is long gone. I can swim. But not with a cat under my arm.

Hurricane Preparedness began last week. The administrator here told us that in a forced evacuation, "we could take our pets"--this time--if they fit on our laps. Then I got a letter from The City that said--"No, you can't. Pets will be put into a separate vehicle to follow...."

No! No! And NO! Most pets "put into separate vehicles to follow" (in the past) were never seen again.

Author's note here: When one is elderly, poor, has no family left...or no family here...and lives in low-income housing...one must sign a paper saying they will "go with the City of
New Orleans during an evacuation." No ifs, ands, or buts. Because NOPD or the National Guard WILL drag your sorry ass out of here (without your pet), screaming, in a mandatory evac.

Okay, so here's the deal. I am most-probably already in trouble for arguing with the administrator and the Red Cross and The City over this. We are having a meeting with them on WEDNESDAY (June 18th). I need input and ideas and suggestions from pet lovers EVERYWHERE! Please! No idea is too insignificant. Please write to me!

Shelters do NOT accept pets here during hurricanes. Not the SPCA. Not vets' offices. Not the shelters that shelter humans. Folks? Pet lovers? What is the answer to this? We must find one!

I have a dear friend. During Katrina, she lost everything. Her mother drowned. She lost her house and everything she owned. She and her four cats and three dogs went to the roof (that's how fast the water came up.) I will not go into more of her personal history except to tell you...it's been NINE YEARS. We still sit in my kitchen and cry uncontrollably about these losses. Not about the house. Not about her belongings. But about the look on the faces of her darlings--left behind--as she was pulled off the roof (against her will) into a boat. All pets starved/drowned.

Pet lovers take any pet loss to their graves. (Or the Rainbow Bridge.) Folks shrug--get over it. A pet lover never "gets over it."

There has to be a better way. There has to be a better answer to this!

Please understand. I am not screaming another "Katrina." (May we never see another Katrina.) Levees have been repaired and strengthened, here. But in the U.S., where "Climate Change" has become "dirty words" for the uninformed...in a country/world where "One-Hundred-Year" storm events...now happen every year...I am merely reaching out for better ideas--for all of us. Everywhere.

For me? I love cats--and rats. I love rats! (Please don't recoil and say Ewwww. They are the most loving and funny and wonderful darlings!) I love dogs. I love birds. Hell--I'm just an animal lover--period. They do not deserve to be left behind...or separated from the ones who love and care for them. It's too frightening. It's not fair to them--and it psychologically kills their owners.

I need feedback from you, my pet-loving readers. I need ideas. I need input. I want to go to Wednesday's meeting armed! For the sake of pets. Please reply via Comments. All will be appreciated greatly. And I will attempt to reply to all. And I WILL let you know what comes of Wednesdays' meeting--via Diary. A heads-up-early-thanks--to all.

Originally posted to Letters from Below Sea Level on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 07:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by PWB Peeps and PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community .

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Comment Preferences

  •  You might get some good feedback (8+ / 0-)

    So thanks for asking here.

    Of course USHS and ASPCA comes to mind (all hail), are they involved with the meeting Wednesday?

    -Another thought, what worked then, for those that got saved was there something beyond random? Can it be repeated?

    -Being able to get your pet back, as with any stolen animal, be prepared, papers, microchips, anything

    -Know the evacuation path in advance

    quick look at links
    Preparedness guidelines
    http://www.humanela.org/...

    http://www.humanesociety.org/...

    •  An old tree... (10+ / 0-)

      The "on the grid" animal organizations never show up at these meetings.

      Our Saviors down here during Katrina were just ordinary good-hearted animal lovers who fought (and I mean sneaked) their way into a closed City under Martial Law to save animals. Of course--they didn't get them all. And of course, they never found them all. It was heartbreaking.

      Can't go through this again--ever.

      To your question: What worked? Folks who refused to get into a boat or a helicopter, who had their pets in their arms, and refused to surrender them. ("I'll stay on this roof, thanks.") Many of them drowned. That's how much they loved their animals.

      These (and me) are the sort of folks I wrote the piece for. I am old. I am tired. And I am not surrendering my cat. Nohow. No way. Ever.

  •  Can an alternative be formed? (6+ / 0-)

    For evacuation, aid, check on each other, transportation.  I know, happy thought. Nice to think though.

    "When one is elderly, poor, has no family left...or no family here...and lives in low-income housing...one must sign a paper saying they will "go with the City of New Orleans during an evacuation." No ifs, ands, or buts. Because NOPD or the National Guard WILL drag your sorry ass out of here (without your pet), screaming, in a mandatory evac."

    (AARP comes to mind, haven't been able to go there myself. But that level of community is what I'm wondering)

    •  AARP (8+ / 0-)

      AARP sort of "went rogue" (Republican) in these last years, me thinks. I used to belong. I don't, anymore.

      I did make arrangements with the brother of a friend to come and fetch me out of here in an evac...but that's the crux of the story. To go where? No one wants to take in humans armed with a pet (or pets).

      They take us north to Baton Rouge...or on to Alexandria...or on to Shreveport. But then what?

      My secret dream? (If I were wealthy.) To find a big-big shelter where all with pets get sent directly! Yes--one big mess--eh? But if we had animal food, and litter, and supplies for cleaning up after frightened pets--it would be mecca for pet lovers. And I would run it! Pipe-Dreaming here in NOLA.

  •  Might it be possible to look at proactively moving (7+ / 0-)

    your companion animals to shelter housing?  Unfortunately this may well be in another state, or miles removed.  Also, I don't know how the shelter care would be paid for, and most definitely there would need to be oversight to ensure it was actual CARE and not simply piling the animals into in horrible conditions with little or no human contact.  But somehow, maybe, there's a way to look at being pre-prepared on the evacuation.  To ensure the companion animals have a saef way out before the crap really hits the fan.

    Sorry not to be more help.

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:38:57 AM PDT

  •  It was my understanding that shelters, post (12+ / 0-)

    Katrina, could NOT turn people with animals away. They can have a situation where part of the area has animals and part doesn't, but they cannot turn you away. Furthermore, the animals need to go with the people for any number of reasons, including the fact that this is the ONLY way you know they got out. I would look for a local reporter and talk with them.

    I had the same problem with the Red Cross here during a fire and they told people they wouldn't take their animals when we were evacuated. I raised hell and threatened to go to the press. They changed their policy. We organized locally, and I started a little shelter in the parking lot where we were mostly staying so I could help people find places for their animals in a neighboring community. The neighboring community was incredibly helpful.

    I would suggest calling Best Friends in Utah (they were very active during Katrina and built and left in place a shelter somewhere outside of New Orleans). Talk to them and tell them what is going on. Perhaps they can help you?

    Here is their site, bestfriends.org, and their contact information:
    Phone: (435) 644-2001
    Email: info@bestfriends.org

    Here is a wiki link to info on the animal act passed by congress after Katrina [ http://en.wikipedia.org/... ]

    I do not like what I am hearing from you and it doesn't sound right. Try reading about the act first, then call Best Friends. I wouldn't sign ANYTHING until you are certain of what it means. Do they have a legal clinic anywhere down there you can call for help?  What about rescue organizations?

    The only hawk I like is the kind that has feathers. My birding blogs: http://thisskysings.wordpress.com/ and canyonbirds.net

    by cany on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:54:00 AM PDT

  •  shipping out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, i saw an old tree today

    find a list of shelters outside the effective area
    call fed ex and ship your cat there for care
    with a phone or contact information

    maybe at one of the preparedness meetings bring up
    a possibility of the delivery services shipping the pets
    and maybe a tax break for aiding during and emergency

    In Shambala I can see the forests & the trees

    by Joseph Westfall on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:00:21 PM PDT

  •  Here is an excellent resource...really excellent (3+ / 0-)

    http://petsfortheelderly.org/... and this
    http://www.agingcare.com/...

    To quote:
    For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.

    "A new pet can stimulate someone to read up on an animal or breed, which can be very mentally stimulating and important at that age," says Dr. Katharine Hillestad, a veterinarian with the office of Doctors Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, Wis., which provides online advice and retails pet supplies and pharmaceuticals.  

    Pets provide other intangibles. "Dogs—and other pets—live very much in the here and now. They don't worry about tomorrow. And tomorrow can be very scary for an older person. By having an animal with that sense of now, it tends to rub off on people," says Dr. Jay P. Granat, a New Jersey psychotherapist.

    And pets can reduce depression and lessen loneliness. "Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet's companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet," says Linda Anderson, who with husband Allen founded the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis. The couple speaks about the joys of pet ownership and has authored books.

    In Angel Dogs: Divine Messengers of Love (New World Library, 2005), the Andersons tell about Bonnie, a golden retriever Marjorie and Richard Douse adopted, which became an indispensable family member. "We never felt alone when Bonnie was in the house. As we aged and tended to go out less, she provided us with loving companionship," the Douses say in the Anderson's book.

    ANIMALS ARE MEDICINE FOR THE ELDERLY. PROVISION IS MADE FOR MEDS, THAT SHOULD INCLUDE OUR FELLOW CREATURES.

    "It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness." (Adlai Stevenson in praise of Eleanor Roosevelt) (Glowing Candle Avatar Adopted in 1986)

    by murphthesurf3 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 04:33:03 AM PDT

    •  Pet help (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      Hi Murph--and thanks. I believe these very writings/facts you listed were used by national animal/pet groups after 2005. And I'm not sure, but I think they got a law passed (I may be mis-remembering this) so that nothing like this would ever happen again. But I think it pertains more to pet owners who own homes or live in apartments--but applies less to those who are under the "care" of the City during an evacuation.

      Either way, you brought up something I had long forgotten, and I will be bringing this up, along with other good suggestions here. I appreciate the input and the websites.

  •  Hope this isn't too late (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    North Shore Animal League in Long Island, New York, set up a special shelter for pets of displaced residents before, during and after Superstorm Sandy.  They cared for hundreds of animals.  The challenges will be:
    1. an agency to take lead on the project.  NSAL is a large-but-local no-kill shelter that took on the emergency preparedness role for Long Island in the wake of Katrina.
    2. a space that's large enough for the estimated pet population, outside of the impact zone
    3. trained volunteer staff -- professionals and lay caregivers -- whose own needs won't supersede their volunteer duties
    4. supplies in place before the storm hits -- many supplies are corporate donations
    5. a means of tracking which pet belongs to whom, where the people are going, and how to get ahold of them after the storm. There are software programs used by relief agencies that can do this, either out of the box or with a bit of modification.
    6. planning for the management of pets whose people take longer to come back for them than the emergency shelter can support. They will need to be re-housed, and that re-housing will need to be tracked.

    This is not a small undertaking.  Organizing the above for the first time is full-time work for probably 4-5 people per site you intend to set up, more if you have less time to prepare.  Once it's in place fewer staff can be involved, but the lead agency probably needs at least one person dedicated to disaster preparedness on a full-time basis.  

    Pet shelter and rescue needs to be part of the overall disaster planning and community preparedness team, or it will cost human lives.  If New Orleans didn't learn that lesson from Katrina, I'm sorry but I don't know if there's hope for your political and civic leadership.

    Banana Republic: it's not just a clothing store.

    by northbronx on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 12:09:28 PM PDT

  •  during Katrina/Rita, the TPWD brought (0+ / 0-)

    an awful lot of animals out of LA into Texas. Many are still with "adoptive" families post shelter-stays as a result... so let me suggest you check the www.fema.gov site in the "preparedness" and "evacuation" topics.

    Here's a page on preparing:
    http://www.ready.gov/...

    and a page of info for pet owners:
    http://www.fema.gov/...

    THIS from ready.gov

    Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
    is new. In '06 we had federal mandates that people would NOT be forced to leave pets behind.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 02:08:31 PM PDT

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