When people who have pets to consider find themselves in an emergency situation like that many people are experiencing now with Hurricane Irma, it isn’t always easy to simply evacuate.
Matt Varga, a resident of Kendell, Florida, found that out the hard way when he attempted to leave the evacuation zone with his dog, Meeka. He was told by the airline that his dog could not board the plane because he didn’t have the proper type of pet carrier that was required for canine air travel. While at Miami International Airport, Varga told a reporter that he had visited ten different retailers in an attempt to purchase the proper carrier, but that every store was sold out by the time he got there.
The guidelines that must be followed regarding pets on airplanes is federally mandated. This includes what types of carriers are acceptable. However, in this instance, many people think the airline should have made an exception because of the emergency evacuation that was underway. Users of social media recalled a case last year when a pilot went against regulations in order to save 36 pets from a wildfire in Canada. The pilot said that it was more important that he do the right thing than follow regulation at the time.
Hurricane Katrina saw both animals and their owners die because of this type of regulation. Because of that, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act was passed in 2006. The bill, which is bipartisan, ensures that pets are included in emergency evacuation from a federal disaster.
The act is a step up, though it doesn’t mandate that hotels accept pets during emergencies, nor does it require airlines to lift their restrictions. This means people with pets, including Varga, will stay in disaster zones rather than leave their beloved pets behind.