Archives for Emergencies category

Should Emergency Evacuation Planners Consider our Pets? Do People Care?

By Randa Magdi

I watched in horror like everyone else when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August, 2005. Little did I realise at the time .. that here in Australia, six years on, we would experience similar devastation via another natural disaster..

First the flooding around Brisbane in January 2011, the capital city of the state of Queensland – followed by the cyclone in far-north Queensland in February.

Then not far from our shores .. New Zealand was hit by an eathquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter Scale. This was actually an after-shock from the earlier September 2010 quake but this one hit at lunch time with its epicenter in the heart of the main city of Christchurch. It was very close to the surface so caused far more devastation.

Then only recently – look at what has happened in Japan?

So when it all started in our own country in January there we sat watching the constant live coverage on our TVs and we watched matters unfold. We sat glued to the television cuddling our two dogs and three cats.. feeling such empathy for our fellow human beings, their pets, wildlife, horses and livestock . Over that period people all over the world saw images.. Maybe because it was close to home we saw much more .. as I suspect our American friends did back in 2005..

We watched it all and knew that if ever we were asked to evacuate we at home agreed we could not leave our pets behind to fend for themselves.. alone and petrified.. like an 18 month old child as we have been told they resemble. There is just NO WAY we would do that.

So many people through these disasters have made that very decision and have actually died as a consequence. And please don’t get me wrong – I am not trying to judge others who have had to make heart-breaking decisions when they have had to make that decision with next to no warning.. people were taken by complete surprise and not prepared for such an emergency – nor were the authorities.

As an active social network user – I was able to immediately share information with other Australians on Facebook and Twitter and we went through it together as if we were family – regardless of our geographical distance. Humanitarians and animal lovers were united to help in whatever way we could. I felt that in some little way I could help just by passing on information to my networks about lost pets or weather situations .. or you know.. whatever I could do to help as someone so far removed but having strong networks.. maybe this might help in some small way..

You see after Hurricane Katrina a lot of lessons were learnt that many of us around the world are just learning now. Now it’s enacted in U.S. law that provision for pets must be made along with provisions for humans. Pets are no longer considered as if they were property but regarded as other sentient beings. In other words, there has to be evacuation centres for pets as well as humans, and/or the evacuation centers that are catering for humans also have to cater for pets.

Don’t you think other places in the world need to put these same laws into place – before rather than after?

I tried to create a Facebook group to build support and I must say that I was a little disappointed .. the group has over 300 members but I thought it would take off like a wild fire once people saw someone was trying to take action locally..

Just last night I created a poll on Twitter which will last for seven days – it asks..” It’s an emergency and you have to evacuate your home and you have pets – you can opt for “No way would I leave my pet behind” OR “I would leave my pet behind if I had to.”

I asked friends on Facebook and Twitter to take the poll. I was dismayed by a comment – “Done as well. And of course I think you know my answer as well. Although I have to tell you, my general feeling is that most people don’t give a crap about animals – hence all the millions of them that are put to sleep every year in Australia.”

What are your thoughts? I want to pursue this further..

I have plenty more to add so will do so in another installment..


P.S. Don’t forget to visit us at dogs and cats

And you can follow us on twitter too

Mar 25, 2011 | 0 | Emergencies

We will NOT Leave our Dogs Behind During an Emergency Evacuation!

Around the world we watched the harrowing scenes of devastation unfolding in Queensland – first the floods and more recently Cyclone Yasi in north and far north Queensland.

And while the evacuations were handled very well by the authorities with Anna Bligh doing a sensational job at the helm.. one thing came to light for Australians. Our pets are seen as property and not as family members.

Many many people endangered their lives by refusing to evacuate without their pets. New legislation needs to be put in place in Australia so that in future disasters this does not happen again.

In the United States, Hurricane Katrina “laid bare the dichotomy between people’s attachment to their animals and the unwillingness or inability of shelters, police and other rescue officials to accommodate pet owners.” (source –

During the floods, some shelters were allowing pets and the main shelter could accommodate 300 maximum. More recently during the cyclone, people were advised by the Premier that pets were not allowed in the evacuation centres.

Our hearts went to the animals and their owners. We want our pets to be included in emergency evacuation plans – we will not leave them behind.  We felt for all of the pets that were left on their own at home experiencing the most unimaginable conditions that anyone could endure. Think of a child alone and how petrified and confused they would be? Our dog trainer once said that our pets are like 18 month old children. We cannot put them through this again.

Please join this cause and let people power make a difference! Here is a link to the Facebook page


P.S. Don’t forget to visit us at dogs and cats

And you can follow us on twitter too

Feb 08, 2011 | 1 | dog safety, Emergencies