Lessons Learned from Katrina and Rita
In the aftermath of the devastating 2005 hurricane season that resulted in the loss of thousands of pets, the veterinary community, animal welfare organizations, and local, state, and federal governments faced a clear mission: Don’t make people choose between staying in a potentially life-threatening situation with their pets or leaving their pets behind when they evacuate. This year, with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike barreling down on the Gulf Coast, many rescue organizations and pet owners were much better prepared. “Everything was improved on since Katrina,” says Dr. Melinda Merck, senior director of veterinary forensics at the ASPCA, who assisted at an animal shelter in Louisiana. A human shelter was set up nearby so pet owners could take care of their animals. Dr. Merck says, "It allowed owners to have peace of mind about their animals’ well-being."