Hurricane Expo Teaches Pet Safety

By: Diane Ako

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath left rescue personnel and aid workers facing a difficult situation. What do you do with hurricane survivors who refuse to leave their pet? To this day, the rescue community continues to seek solutions for the placement of lost and stray animals.

On May 22nd, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill to help safeguard people with household pets and service animals in the case of emergency. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Act ( H.R.3858), authored by Tom Lantos (D-CA), passed by a vote of 349 to 24. Under the Pets Act, in order to qualify for FEMA funding, a city or state is now required to submit a disaster preparedness plan that accommodates households with pets or service animals.

That was one of the topics at a hurricane preparedness expo Saturday at the Neal Blaisdell Center. "I'm glad the Hawaiian Humane Society was here so that we could start thinking about preparing for our pet," says expo attendee Cheryl Carrera.

Do you have necessary supplies for your pet? Kawehi Yim of the Hawaiian Humane Society runs down a list: "A 2 week supply of food and water. If you pet has medication make sure your pet has a 2 week supply of that medication. Also, flea and tick preventative pills, a first aid kit for animals, their toys, a towel, and pet ID is very important. If you have photos of your pets bring that along with you."

Yim also points to a pet carrier. Emergency shelters for pets are being built, but pets will not be allowed into the shelter unless they have a crate or carrier, she emphasizes.

All this is good information for pet owners. Carrera says she learned a lot. "We never thought about doing anything for our cat, who is actually a house cat."