If you’re forced to evacuate, can you take your household pets with you?
Many people consider their pets part of their family and would never consider leaving them behind. And we have seen a number of viral social media posts claiming a federal law mandates that hotels, motels, and shelters take your pet in if you’re under a state of emergency.
This is NOT true – and it’s dangerous for people to leave their homes thinking they can go to any hotel they want and it will be mandated to take them. Hotels and motels never have a legal obligation to allow any animals inside other than service animals.
Unfortunately for those seeking a safe place for themselves and their pets, they cannot force a hotel to house them.
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The claim cites the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 (PETS).
That is a real law that was created to help sort out the confusion and safety of animals during emergency events. It does require local governments to have emergency plans for pets and sometimes requires they create shelters or other locations to house pets.
However, it does not mandate any sort of housing requirements for hotels, motels or any other private housing.
This post first started making its rounds in 2017 around the time that hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the U.S. FEMA didn't initially respond in 2017, but they have since posted an update on their "rumor control" page from the previous storms.
Their post calls the posts False.
"Rumor: Pets In Hotels (Transitional Sheltering Assistance)
There are reports that hotels and motels participating in the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program are legally required to accommodate pets. This is FALSE. (September 8)
Hotels and motels participating in FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program do not fall under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)). Please call the hotel before you go and ask if pets are permitted.
Hotels must accept service animals and individuals with access and functional needs should check with the hotel to ensure if accessible lodging accommodations are available to meet their needs."
We can Verify the post is False. You cannot make a hotel house your pet even in emergency situations.
We spoke to a veterinarian who said that the best thing to do is make sure your pet is microchipped, have a pet carrier and plenty of food and water ready to go if you need to evacuate.
The following sites also maintain lists of animal-friendly travel options:
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