I have been reading some misinformation on Facebook lately regarding the PETS Act. The posts are stating that hotels are not allowed to turn your pets away during an evacuation due to a natural disaster. If only that were true!
What the PETS Act actually says is that state and local governments must consider the needs of families with pets and service animals when developing emergency plans. Considering their needs does NOT mean you get a free pass to override hotel policies.
As we saw in Texas, it does mean that planners were more cognizant of the fact that people can die if they are unwilling to leave their pets behind as happened during Katrina. Many of the Texas shelters allowed you to bring your pets. (I believe service animals have always been allowed.)
In Florida, it appears to me (at this point) that “considering the needs of families with pets” means having a section on their emergency preparedness website that indicates pet friendly lodging facilities along evacuation routes.
The posts on Facebook try to goad you into bullying the hotel clerk who tells you your pet is not welcome by insisting it is illegal for the hotel to turn you away. Please don’t do this. The clerks are merely doing their jobs. Instead, check out pet policies before you arrive, or even better, before the need arises, so you will know where your pet will be welcome.
SOME hotels may elect to waive their normal pet policies during emergency situations, but they are not required by law to do so.
Read the actual text of the law here.
To those of you in the way of Irma (and eventually Jose), we wish you safety as you evacuate or shelter in place.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!