The people evacuating Puerto Rico don’t have enough to worry about without being forced to choose between leaving and keeping their dogs??
According to a new report in The Daily Beast, most airlines leaving San Juan are enforcing a federal ban on pets larger than 20 lbs.
Sylvie Bedrosian, president of Pet Friendly Puerto Rico, estimates at least 2,000 families had to leave their animals behind thanks to the embargo.
The limit is due to the government taking control of the cargo holds of planes going to and from the island in order to deliver more badly needed supplies. But Bedrosian points out that’s only on the way TO Puerto Rico, not on the way back:
“I understand that most planes coming from the U.S. to Puerto Rico are filled with goods, but what bothers me most is that planes leaving the island are mostly empty. Why take custody of an empty cargo?”
Bedrosian also believes the policy violates a law put in place after Katrina, the No Pet Left Behind FEMA Act which “authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency.”
This law applies to all planes, meaning even ones hired by organizations specifically for the purpose of animal rescue are unable to proceed for now.
The problem is compounded by the fact that, according to local newspapers, only half the animal shelters in Puerto Rico even have running water, and NONE have power. Shelter owner Gloria Marti says her shelter has been rationing food since the storm, and her facility was “already at full capacity” with 135 dogs before Maria:
“I’ve lost count of how many have arrived after the hurricane.”
One shelter even abandoned its 200 dogs when the owner fled the island.
The thought of having to leave behind the family puppy is so heartbreaking! But the only way some of these people have to feed themselves and their families right now is by going somewhere else.
Yet another way in which we’re failing Puerto Rico.
[Image via PETA/NEAVS/Twitter.]