Saturday, November 10, 2012

After a Disaster Strikes No One Should Have to be Separated From Their Pets

I have witnessed first hand the devastation that was the result of Hurricane Sandy. The sound of the rushing water that, within minutes, transformed my house from a comfortable home into an uninhabitable residence is something I will never forget.  Although being displaced from my home has caused a flood of many emotions, it has been made even more devastating by the way my pets have been viewed during the ordeal.

What I quickly learned is that Long Island is not pet friendly.  Temporary shelters do not allow pets to stay with their families and the temporary animal shelters do not guarantee their safe return.  Perhaps the stories of lost and stolen pets are an exaggeration but it is not a risk I would be willing to take. The strict "no pets" rule of many coop apartment complexes are so strictly upheld by the management board that no exceptions are made, even for those temporarily displaced by the storm.

Attempting to find temporary housing with a pet is an absolute nightmare. The mere mention of a dog, cat, or other animal automatically changes the tone of the conversation. Finding a pet friendly hotel or apartment is difficult, if not impossible. Why is it automatically assumed that I will be OK with being separated from the dog and cats that I view as part of my family?  They go where I go and I would certainly not leave them behind at any time and especially in a time of chaos and uncertainty.

Although I don't know if this attitude towards pets is shared around the world or around the country, I do know that around here changes need to be made. In times of turmoil everyone needs to stay together, including our pets.  It is known that in times of stress pets can be a very calming influence in our lives.  After disaster strikes, and your life has been changed in an instant, there is nothing like your furry friend by your side letting you know that everything will be alright. That is not the time to be told your pet is not welcomed where you need to go to be safe.

During this time of uncertainty the community has come together,  The generosity of others has brought me to tears and I have been able to find joy amongst the devastation as family, friends and neighbors have come together to help each other.   During it all I met and supported others as I walked my dog.  I was comforted my my kitties at times when things seemed hopeless.  They were there for me as much as I was there for them.

It is my hope that in the future our furry friends will be welcomed in time of need and hospitality will be extended to all, including our furry friends.  After all, pets do not just live with us, they are family.

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