Yahoo News Explains: Why some people leave their pets during a hurricane

Hurricane Michael devastated the South, leaving at least 11 dead.

“So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything. Homes are gone. Businesses are gone,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The Category 4 storm forced many residents to evacuate, some even leaving their pets behind.

When Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas in September, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was overwhelmed by the number of animals needing rescue, with many trapped inside flooded homes.

For public health reasons, many emergency shelters set up for evacuations cannot accept animals.

Those that can often require documentation like your pet’s vaccinations, adoption papers, registration, and medical records.

According to PETA, 91 percent of animal guardians aren’t prepared for a natural disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having a disaster kit ready for your pet at all times.

Besides paperwork, the agency suggests including a first-aid kit, ID tags, and an animal crate.

If you’re unable to gather the necessary documents to bring your animal companion, there are other options:

  • Friend or family member nearby

  • Pet-friendly hotel

  • Animal shelters

  • Veterinary hospitals

  • Boarding facilities

Airbnb also offered free, pet-friendly housing for Florida residents during Hurricane Michael.

The worst-case scenario is having to leave your pet at home, according to FEMA.

If this is the only option, FEMA advises owners to confine pets to a safe area with plenty of food and water, but do not chain them up.

FEMA also recommends placing notices outside the house with your phone number, advising where the animal is located.

Owners who abandoned their pets during Hurricane Irma in 2017 were reportedly charged with a felony by the Florida State Attorney’s Office.

To save your pet and avoid a criminal charge, be prepared.