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House Bill wants to help lost pets in times of natural disasters

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 19:06:49-05

Many times during hurricanes and floods, pets lost in the chaos end up in Florida’s already overcrowded shelter. Now a new proposed law wants to make sure those lost animals stay safe. 
House democrat leader Janet Cruz says trips to Puerto Rico inspired House Bill 823.

"I saw what could happen in times of true devastation and that’s why I bring this bill forward," she said.

The bill would force shelters to have a policy during natural disasters to help lost pets be easily returned to their owners without causing extreme overcrowding in Florida’s already overcrowded shelters. 

"Pets can be an extension of your own family but to lose one inadvertently because shelters don’t have the right procedures and would be devastating," the bill's co-sponsor Rep. Joe Gruters said. 
Pinellas Animal Services say they have a procedure in place like what is being proposed. Director Doug Brightwell says they were able to help care for more than 2,000 pets during Hurricane Irma and all of those pets were safely returned to their owners. 
Hillsborough Animal Services director Scott Prebatoski thinks it's important to have a procedure but thinks the details should be left up to the counties because not all counties have the same funding when it comes to animal services. 

"This is a very easy bill, it's a common sense bill to make sure these shelters have policies and procedures to make sure these tragedies don’t happen here in Florida," Gruters said.