No, it’s not pets freaking out and killing people. It’s people staying in harm’s way during natural disasters because they can’t take their pets with them.

I saw some data about this from Hurricane Katrina years ago, and while I can’t remember the exact number, an astounding number of deaths were associated with people who didn’t evacuate because they couldn’t take their pets with them. It’s not just a natural disaster issue. Uncounted homeless people get sick and die each year because their pets can’t come with them to shelters, hospitals or doctor’s appointments, and there are few alternatives.

A recent CNN article again raises the issue of rescuing pets during natural disasters, with regard to the impending Hurricane Florence. One family that’s trying to ride out the storm in North Carolina cites the challenges of taking in their pets with them as a deciding factor.

It’s not a zoonotic disease issue, but pets and animal care are an often-overlooked issue in emergency preparedness and interventions with the homeless.