Animals & Money: Pets did much better with Hurricane Gustav


New Orleans residents all did better this hurricane, including the dogs and cats. What happened last time around during Katrina to animals and their owners inspired some great changes.

During Katrina animals weren't allowed in shelters or buses leaving town. That gave pet owners two awful options: abandon their animals or wait out the storm with them. Thousands of dogs and cats were abandoned. Many drowned. A lucky few were plucked from top shelves or chained inside houses. Saddest of all, some people who stayed to protect and comfort their dogs ended up dying alongside them.

After Katrina emergency workers owned up to the idea that since pets have become part of people's families, they better come up with a better plan than just leaving pets behind. In 2006 the federal Pet Evacuation and Standards Act required disaster plans to "address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency."

This time around it seemed to have worked., which is kind of like an eBay for homeless animals, polled the local rescue groups and found things went off pretty well. Small animals were just allowed on the evacuation buses, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Officials ordered up 150 semi-trucks to carry out the bigger dogs, the Kansas City Star reports. When people checked in, they would also check in their dogs, then get a tracking bracelet. The dogs' temporary shelters were next to human shelters so families could visit.