Most
of us would never consider leaving our four-legged family members behind in an
emergency, and it seems that people a century ago had similar sentiments. On
the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, we are finally hearing
about the dogs onboard—and the guardians who refused to leave them.

Titanic Passengers Loved Their Dogs, Too

Widener
University in Pennsylvania is hosting a centennial Titanic exhibit, part of
which focuses on the twelve dogs who were onboard the ship. The three who
survived were small dogs whose guardians smuggled them onto lifeboats, likely
without the other passengers noticing. Passenger Margaret Hays reportedly got
her dog, Lady, onto the lifeboat by wrapping her in a blanket.

At
least one of the Titanic’s passengers jumped out of a lifeboat when she was
told her dog couldn’t accompany her. Ann Elizabeth Isham refused to leave her
Great Dane behind, and days later, a recovery ship found the body of a woman
still clinging to a large dog, which all accounts identify as Isham and her
beloved Great Dane.

What Katrina Taught Us

More
recently, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, PETA rescuers saw
stories similar to Isham’s repeated again and again. But these distraught guardians
were forced to evacuate and leave
their animals behind. Many animals didn’t make it, although some were rescued and returned to their
families
after months of searching by PETA and other animal organizations.

The PETS Act

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina forced the issue of
animals suffering during disasters into the national spotlight and resulted in
the Pets Evacuation and
Transportation Standards (PETS) Act
, which requires state and local disaster plans to include provisions for safely accommodating
animal companions in the event of a major disaster or emergency.

We’ve seen the benefits of the nation’s heightened
awareness of the need for disaster planning for animals in the wake of the
recent Navy jet crash in
Virginia Beach
, Virginia, which destroyed or damaged 40 apartments. Virginia Beach Animal Care Adoption Center immediately
spread word to rescue workers that it would take in all displaced animals, and
families knew that their animal companions had a safe place to go while they
made arrangements.

Disasters
Don’t Have to Be Tragedies

Many more families are now doing their own advance planning to protect
animals in emergencies
, including taking the following steps:

  • Keeping
    ID tags current on animals’ collars
  • Having
    animals microchipped and keeping the microchip company abreast of any changes
    in information
  • Putting
    current photos of animals inside purses and wallets to help rescuers identify
    them
  • Storing
    current medical records, along with veterinarians’ and boarding facilities’
    phone numbers, in an easily accessible place
  • Making
    an emergency evacuation kit containing leashes, medicine, water, food, litter,
    and phone numbers of animal-friendly hotels

Advance
planning can’t prevent natural disasters, but it can prevent disasters from
becoming tragedies for our animal companions.

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Article source: PETA Files

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