DC to include pets in disaster recovery planning

Published 20 December 2006

District among the first to respond to president’s post-Katrina order; experience shows pet-owners more likely to evacuate if assured of furry friend’s safety; Human Society lends a paw

Our readers are well aware of our love for animals — bees that detect bombs, sharks that commit espionage, dolphins that locate mines — but we have offered no opinions about household pets. So we are intrigued by the announcement that our hometown of the District of Columbia is one of the first in the nation to obey a presidential order to include pets in disaster planning, the result of the widespread abandonment of dogs, cats, snakes, ferrets, and pet aligators during Hurrican Katrina. As many pet owners (61% during Katrina ) are loathe to leave without their furry and feathered friends, establishing pet-handling procedures will go a long way towards saving human lives as well. Said Barbara Childs-Pair, director of the DC Emergency Management Agency:


After Hurricane Katrina, many residents would not evacuate because they could not take their pets. This would not happen in the District of Columbia because we have plans in place that allow residents to shelter people with their pets. We also have a very good relationship between government agencies and those humane organizations like The Humane Society of the United States that would assist us with animal protection and care.”


This is a good idea, but we are at the same time reminded of the bright red stickers that pet owners sometimes affix to their windows as a notice to firefighters: “Pets inside.” Obviously the suggestion is that a rescue workers should risk his life to save the resident’s golden retriever. This has always struck us as the height of selfishness, and we hope that D.C., in its efforts to save pets, will always put human life first.

-read more in this D.C. news release