County Working On Pet Friendly Shelter

George Mitchell and his 19-year-old dog Friskie are true hurricane survivors. They made it through the storm surge that filled his neighbor's Biloxi home where the two rode out Katrina.

Mitchell never thought of evacuating and leaving his beloved companion behind.

"He's dependent on me. His condition and age and everything he couldn't do anything for himself. If a building got blown down he doesn't see that good. I just couldn't leave him. He's too close to me," Mitchell says.

Other pet owners feel the same way, and in some cases they died alongside their animals when they refused to evacuate. So with the next storm season coming up, the Humane Society and Harrison County Emergency Operations are trying to make sure people with animals don't have to make that choice.

"What we're working on is establishing a location where we can have a pet friendly shelter. And what it's like is people stay in our part of the facility and their pets stay in that same facility with them," Humane Society of South Mississippi Director Tara High says.

High says Hurricane Katrina showed how attached people really are to their furry friends.

"They may just be animals, but for a lot of us they're family, and so we will put ourselves at risk for our animals," she says.

Mitchell likes the idea of a shelter that welcomes pets.

"It's the first good idea they've had with their preparations."

The Humane Society and Harrison County Emergency Operations staff are determined to open the first pet friendly shelter before the next storm threatens.