Pets and Katrina

There has been a lot of discussion since Katrina about the role of companion animals in disaster preparation and evacuation. Animals have demonstrated advantages for the health of older people, even the very old and frail (and even as visitors than live-in companions).

Here is another aspect to the discussion.

Lost in Katrina and in new homes – whose pet now? By Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor

…The lawsuits are efforts to reunite family members – even fuzzy ones – who have been separated by Katrina. They also raise troubling questions about whether animals should be treated as property or as members of the family – and which homes they belong in.

“We’re trying to distinguish between dog-nappers and good-faith finders, and that’s a huge gray area right now from hurricane Katrina,” says David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University in Lansing and an animal law expert….

In many cases, overwhelmed shelters were forced to find new homes for pets that had not been claimed even after pictures were posted on the Internet….

State laws, so far, are on the side of the original owners because pets are considered property, not family, law experts say. “Finders, keepers” laws state that property must be abandoned for at least a year before original owners lose their rights to it unless the finders can prove they made a good-faith effort to find the owner. In Louisiana, the requirement is three years. In January, a New Jersey judge ordered a family to return a dog adopted after Katrina to its owner in New Orleans….

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0721/p01s03-ussc.html?s=hns


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2 Responses to “Pets and Katrina”


  1. 1 vuee 2006 July 20 at 10:28 pm

    And still another aspect, from a public health focussed web log–

    “In general, what to do about companion animals (“pets”) is often overlooked. In an influenza pandemic, for example, humane societies should be thinking about what to do with “orphaned” animals or with small kennels or grooming salons where the operators become sick and have to abandon their charges. What if it turns out that the virus can infect mammals besides humans? We know that both cats and dogs have been infected, although we don’t know how common it is. Some thought should be given to how to handle this situation. Will we see people turning their pets loose out of fear or vigilantes shooting animals for the same reason?”

    Effect Measure
    http://tinyurl.com/zlq22

  2. 2 Friends of Bandit and Malvin 2006 August 7 at 1:05 pm

    Speaking of elderly people and their pets during Katrina, here is a heartbreaking story of one. http://www.banditandmalvin.blogspot.com

    We haven’t updated it to the present time yet, but will be doing so over the next week or so.

    The pet owners do consider these animals to be family, not just property. The problem is that the rest of the “system”: Red Cross shelters, bus drivers, helicopter pilots, boat drivers, etc. etc. do not. They tell these people, Leave Your Animal Behind With Plenty of Food And Water Because We Won’t Take Them. And look at what happens. Enormous amount of suffering and heartache–mostly needless.

    If all of society considered these pets to be family, the way their owners do, there wouldn’t be the messes there are. But even if the individual owner considers the animal to be as close to them as a regular family member, as soon as they run into the first uncooperative shelter, hotel, national guard evacuator, they’re just SOL. Suddenly that pet is treated like so much unwanted luggage, to be forcibly discarded and/or stolen/looted.


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