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FL HB 177 Would Fine People for Abandoning Animals in Storms

Paws Up! To Florida Representative Emily Slosberg for introducing legislation to protect companion animals from abandonment.

January 8, 2021

Hurricanes ravage the Florida coastline multiple times a year, leaving paths of devastation behind and many families scattered. The threat of an impending storm such as a tornado or hurricane, like Hurricane Irma, would be terrifying for anyone in its path. Luckily, many people are able to evacuate to safety before the storm strikes. Now, imagine being chained to a tree or a car and watching hopelessly as your family drives away to safety, leaving you behind.

This is the reality for countless animals whose owners fail to include them in emergency plans. According to this report, in just one Florida county alone, Animal Control had to rescue 49 dogs who were stranded by their families during Hurricane Irma. Some dogs were able to climb to higher ground, while others were not so fortunate because they were chained to trees or other immovable objects.

Florida state Representative Emily Slosberg (D-91) has introduced House Bill 177, which would penalize the very people who abandon their animals in the time of their greatest need. HB 177 would fine up to $500 anyone who leaves their dog or cat tied outside during times of extreme temperature or weather events. While $500 may not seem like enough, past attempts to pass this bill failed, partly due to the penalty being up to $5,000 instead of $500.

While this legislation could discourage pet owners from abandoning their animals during extreme weather events, the best way to prevent these tragedies in the first place is to educate people on how to prepare their companion animals for emergency evacuations so they don’t feel that they must leave them at home to fend for themselves.

Read what you can do to plan ahead for an emergency for your animal family: Plan Now for Your Pet – Before an Emergency

Take Action: Florida residents, contact your representatives and tell them to vote in favor of HB 177. Help educate your friends and loved ones about the importance of keeping their companion animals a part of their emergency preparedness plans and that abandoning their animals should not be an option.

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