Hawaii Planning for Pet Friendly Evacuation Shelters

Honolulu (KHNL) -  Thanks to a new law, in the event of a disaster no one can force you to leave your pet behind.

This week local officials are drafting plans to accomodate people and pets at local shelters.

Janis Morita is adopting a second dog. But when asked about pet evacuation plans, "Right now we don't have one"

A new law prompted by Hurricane Katrina requires states to have pet friendly shelters

The Hawaiian Humane Society's Darcie Scharfenstein explains, "In Hurricane Katrina you saw so many animals that were lost and separated from their homes."

Morita adds, "That was the sad thing that everyone had to leave their pets behind I really wouldn't want to do that."

Representatives from the Humane Society, the Red Cross and the Honolulu Police and Fire Departments are drafting pet evacuation plans.

Scharfenstein says, "We really want to be prepared in the event of a disaster."

Dr. Lorna Lanman is here to help. As a Veterinarian on the federal emergency response team, she's responded to disasters including fires, floods and even Hurricane Katrina.

Lanman explains, "So many animals were left behind and died because of that. Then the tremendous problem of dealing with all those animals in the recovery effort not getting animals back to the owners. The number of people forced to leave animals behind and never saw them again just amazing."

Local officials are taking a proactive approach to make sure pets and people can stay together.

Lanman concludes, "There is a law that states we can't leave pets behind or force people to leave pets behind so how are we gonna do that and that's what we are trying to do work on that plan."

Good news for Janis, Kiwi and Pepper.

There will be a campaign to educate pet owners on which shelters are pet friendly.

So if you have dogs and cats you need to store extra food and water and have crates to transport your pets.