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September 18, 2017

How-to guide for sheltering pets during extreme weather events

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  • Thousands of evacuees sought refuge in Houston’s convention center during Hurricane Harvey, which hit metro Houston and southeast Texas in late August, but their pets were not allowed in with them.
  • Now emergency service groups and animal shelters in Houston are taking a step to include animals and pets in disaster planning.
  • The advocacy group Friends for Life worked with the Red Cross so that pets could stay with their owners in a designated part of the Houston convention center. Designated areas will play a key part in emergency plans along with a foster care system in which foster pet-parents will temporarily take in an animal.
  • During Hurricane Katrina, 170,000 pets died or were left behind, prompting advocacy groups across the country to create such disaster plans.

Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: Why are pets such an important part of people’s lives?
  2. How would you prioritize safety of people and safety of animals during an extreme weather event? Do you think that the Houston convention center made the right decision in creating a designated area for pets and their owners? Explain your response.
  3. Do you have any other suggestions for helping animals or pets during a disaster?

Extension activities

Just how much of a role do animals play in our lives? Watch this student-produced video by PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs to find out:

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