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lillycoyote's avatar

In the event of a natural disaster would you evacuate to a shelter if it meant leaving your companion animal(s) behind?

Asked by lillycoyote (24798points) August 26th, 2011

I got a call from a friend of mine, a Katrina “survivor” and among his many suggestions, as Irene approaches, was to at least familiarize myself with where the local shelters are. There are only two in my area… one will take you and your animals, one will not. I think one of the few positive effects of Katrina was a realization and understanding by authorities and non-profits that some people simply will not leave their animals behind so there are now at least some emergency shelters that will take you in with your animals.

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29 Answers


No, I would try my utmost best to find a shelter that allows animals, and take my doggie with me and my family——he’s every bit part of the family too. He’s so loyal to us, that I’m sure if our own lives were in danger, he’d be the first to come to OUR rescue.

Raven_Rising's avatar

No. Leaving my pets behind to fend for themselves is a deal breaker.

Bellatrix's avatar

If by staying, I really felt my children were at real risk and there was absolutely no way to take my pets, I would go. It would be an absolute last resort though. I wouldn’t put my children in serious harms way though. If it was just me, I would stay with my animals.

jrpowell's avatar

Our cats can climb to the top of a 50 foot tree in 10 seconds. The cat has a better chance of survival than I do. If there was absolutely no way that I could take them I would leave them. One of us dies or both of us do. It seems like a simple decision.

rooeytoo's avatar

Where we live there are no shelters that will allow you to bring your animals. So last year when the cyclone was coming right for us, we evacuated well in advance and left town. We drove inland about 500 and waited it out. I would never leave them behind. They are my responsibility and I take that responsibility seriously.

jrpowell's avatar

@rooeytoo :: What if you had a horse?

JilltheTooth's avatar

In my town they made arrangements for pets at the human shelters. I guess they figured too many would stay in harms way if they couldn’t bring their animals. Hooray for my town!

bunnygrl's avatar

NO! not a chance! I’d never leave Jade and Wallace, neither would hubby. This is a good point to raise though. I have no idea if anywhere would take animals near us. That’s worrying actually….. I mean no one expects these things to happen, and its best to be prepared. Thank you for raising this honey, hugs xx

augustlan's avatar

My answer is the same as @Bellatrix.‘s If it came down to my kids or my pets, the kids come first. I’d certainly do everything in my power to take the cat with us, or find a safe place for her, but if push came to shove, we’re taking the kids and leaving the cat. :(

ucme's avatar

We’re one big happy family & we come in a single package, end of!!

Pele's avatar

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki hit my island (I was 9) . We evacuated our home and went to a shelter near by shelter. I recall that we put all pets (2 dalmations and 2 cats and many birds) into the saftest room with food and water. When we returned, our home was almost completely destroyed yet our pets were safe. We (me and my mum) also had little notice since we weren’t watching the news and my father was on a business trip. We got ready for the storm as it started hitting. Hurricane Iniki destroyed our whole island and it didn’t really recover for 10 years. I guess since we are so far from the mainland it didn’t matter much even on the news. Though here’s a clip with cliton after which was ignored by American mainland networks. Here’s a clip of Iniki. It was one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded. We lost everyhing and we didn’t have electricity for 3 MONTHS and we lived off MRE’s. I will always remember how crazy that was. It was almost a month before I could shower. Sucked! My hopes and prayers goes out to the east coast.

rooeytoo's avatar

@johnpowell – same as we did with the dogs. We knew the shelter would not take them in so we evacuated in plenty of time. We would do the same with a horse, trailer it and head out of town. It is very unusual in this day and age that one does not have advance notice of a storm. Early preparation is the key. I spoke yesterday to a friend in Virginia, she was in the process of loading horses to move inland.

The floods here last year were a different story though, no notice so many humans and livestock were lost.

jca's avatar

If I had notice, I would pack us all up in a car and drive as far as possible. If I had no notice, and I were suddenly in a disaster situation, I would love to say “I definitely would not leave the animals behind” but in reality, it’s really hard to say either way unless you’re in the specific situation. Nuclear war is coming and we might die, yes, I would leave them behind. I would not be happy about it, but if I am going to die along with them, then I go, they stay, kiss them goodbye. If it were something where I may live, then it’s a decision I’d have to make on the spot, and it would depend on a number of factors.

I think it’s one of those things that you really would have a hard time saying with certainty how you’d react until you’re in the situation.

OpryLeigh's avatar

No, I would not leave my animals behind, I don’t care how far I would have to travel to find somewhere that allows animals as well.

bags's avatar

After seeing what happened after Katrina….no, not a chance. I’ve even had my dog/cats microchipped. Either the shelter takes us (and our dog/cat crates) or they refuse us ALL, and we muddle along the best we can. My dog, even my silly cat, have stood up to protect me….I owe them all that as well. I’d never be able to look myself in the eye if I did any less.

marinelife's avatar

No. It is easy enough to plan an evacuation to include your animals if you plan ahead.

dogkittycat's avatar

They’re part of the family I could never leave them. I’d find a way, if you’re determined enough there’s always a solution.

tinyfaery's avatar

The only natural disasters that we get are earthquakes, really——no time to evacuate or take shelter. If the house stays standing we’re all good to go. If not, we’re all fucked.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’d probably have to be forced by my present family members. If alone and no one watching then I think I’d be so torn as to dawdle and end up staying behind with my doggie.

chyna's avatar

It’s just me and my dog. If there were no shelters in my area, assuming I was given ample warning, I would just pack us both up in my car and drive to a safe area.

Jellie's avatar

I’d send my family off and stay in the basement with my animals. I can’t imagine leaving my babies worried and scared and not knowing that to do :(

Coloma's avatar

Nope. Not too many shelters that would take geese. lol
My area is a rural ranch/mountain area and wildfires are a big concern around these parts.

I have only my one cat right now and my pair of geese I have had for 13 years, but, there are many, many farm animals around here, including my neigh-bors, which include 4 sheep, a Llama, 2 mules, a draft horse and 3 mini donkeys, not to mention their 3 dogs and 2 cats.

Having a plan and trailering out livestock is a huge, scary, undertaking in the event of a raging wildfire. At least I could put my guys in my car, hard to do that with a horse.

Even turning horses or goats, cattle, etc. loose out here wouldn’t work as there are too many fences unless you simply let them out on the roads.

Even with a 4 horse trailer which many do not have, most of us would have to make multiple trips to evacuate the animals. I think our county fairgrounds are one evacuation spot for livestock and horses up here.

I have had several scares coming home from town to see smoke over my mountain.
I don’t know what I’d do if they were closing the roads and refusing homeowners a right to get to their properties. Scary indeed.

bags's avatar

@Coloma Thanks, with the hurricane bearing down on us I’m afraid I’ve been shortsighted and just had pets in mind. I hadn’t given a moment’s thought to livestock. I think I’ll get down the road and see if my neighbor with the Belgians could use some help tightening up. We’re used to the so-called ‘white hurricanes’ of Winter…...but this is a whole different animal.

Coloma's avatar


Good pun, whole different animal ;-)

Yes, it is very hot here today, about 97 and this is peak fire season through October now.
This question has awakened my dormant fears on this subject.

I’d also say that keeping your pets indoors so they do not panic is a good idea too. In the event of having to evacuate you do not have to go searching, especially for cats.

Good idea to see if your neighbor needs help with his Belgians, my draft neigh-bor is a Belgian too. He was a PMU rescue from Canada. :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

No, we have travel kennels for the dog and the cat, and would live in our van instead of a shelter. We also have a close relationship with our vet, who has temporary lodging for pets.

flo's avatar

I would send them away to friends or family if I had enough notice and if I could afford it.

zensky's avatar

Yes. And it’s a pet. No matter how fond of it I am.


rooeytoo's avatar

As I said above, different folks have different ideas about the responsibility entailed when one adopts a sentient creature which cannot care for itself.

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