The Other Wild Side: Animals must be saved in disasters

Hurricanes do not happen in Colorado; as a land-locked state, we never experience the aftermath of a Tsunami. We can all imagine the fear that comes with it, though: the desire to rescue and hold on tight to the people and yes, the pets, that give us comfort in our lives, especially when life becomes unrecognizable.

(CU Independent Illustration/Josh Shettler)

Hurricane Sandy crashed down on the Atlantic shore just a few short weeks ago, displacing families in New York, Long Island, and New Jersey. The lives of those caught in the literal tide have been battered and pulled apart from their homes, family members, and their pets. Pets may seem a small concern in the wake of disaster, especially when the whereabouts of family members and friends are vague at best.

However, the assumption that pets are easily forgotten in disaster scenarios is incorrect. The absence of family pets only adds to the feelings of displacement and trauma, according to Verena Dobnik of the associated press.

The saving of animals is a big priority for emergency crews not just to ease the pain for families, but because federal law requires it. Rescuing is mandatory and therefore, in New York, disaster shelters must accept pets.

“There’s such a strong bond between people and animals that people will put their lives at risk not to leave a pet behind,” says Niki Dawson, director of disaster services for the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States.

Forcing people to abandon their pets with no hope of rescue adds more risk to an already dangerous situation. Knowing this, it is better to help families and their pets, because a person’s well-being is not only achieved through physical rescue, but through emotional rescue as well. If this means rescuing helpless animals, then the cause is not just important but humane for all involved — human and animal alike.

Contact Animals Columnist Kitty Winograd at

Kitty Winograd

Kitty is a senior at CU majoring in English and minoring in Ebio. Kitty loves baking, reading literature (assigned or not) and looks forward to watching Boulder Creek change colors every year. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue happily writing on issues that concern and interest her, especially those centered around the natural world and humankind’s interaction with it. As a side note, Kitty is an identical twin, and both can often be seen on campus. Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kitty Winograd at

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