Before Hurricane Katrina, the policy in the United States was that human life eclipsed the life of an animal. Thankfully, attitudes are changing. Today, many people consider pets to be family members.
According to a post by Megan Drake on Care2.com, the best thing to come out of Hurricane Katrina for animals was the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation (PETS) Act, which was signed into law on October 6, 2006. PETS "requires local and state jurisdictions to take into account domestic pets and service animals when formulating and implementing disaster plans. It also gives FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) the power to deny FEMA funds to municipalities and states that do not form or implement such plans."
During Katrina many people had to be forcibly removed from their homes because they wouldn't leave their animals. Tragically, their pets were left behind to fend for themselves against the forces of nature. A huge number of Americans descended on the New Orleans and Mississippi areas to help rescue the pets that made it through. I was one of those people. Watching people who lost their pets in the hurricane come to the makeshift shelter I was volunteering at to look for their pets and not find them was a heart break. Often, these folks never saw their pets again, because even if their pet survived, by the time families came looking, chances were high that the animal had already been shipped to a shelter somewhere in the United States -- to be adopted out to someone else.
"Mine, a documentary by filmmakers Geralyn Pezanoski and Erin Essenmacher explores the journey of five Katrina dogs and their humans who searched for them in the midst of trying to pick up the pieces of lives mangled by catastrophe. The film won awards including the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival and Independent Lens Audience Award for 2009-2010."
Pezanoski was touched by the length to which these pet parents would go to reunite with their "children" and offered to show Mine to community groups like shelters, rescue groups, and libraries. If you want to help spread Mine's message you can schedule a showing in your locale. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Mine's impact will educate and change attitudes about the place pets hold in our society and ultimately change laws, giving rights to animals," according to Megan Drake. "It is powerful, poignant and a must-see for anyone concerned about their own furry family members. It is also a great movie to watch as a family and will teach children about the place animals hold in our hearts and our obligation to them."
(Adapted from the Care 2 Blog)
A great resource book written by Jenny Pavlovic, author of 8 State Hurricane Kate to help ensure you don't lose your animals in a disaster is titled, Not Without My Dog.