Summary of eRumor:
Under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006, hotels are required to accept evacuees with pets during natural disasters and other emergencies.
The PETS Act of 2006 took steps to require state and local governments to account for pets in disaster response plans, and it authorizes FEMA to shelter and care for animals in natural disasters. But private hotels are not required to accept evacuees with pets under the law.
Those rumors emerged on Facebook as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma devastated Texas and Florida in September 2017. Various posts urged evacuees with pets to inform hotels that turn them away that they’re violating the PETS Act:
ATTENTION: If you are evacuating to a hotel/motel and they say they DON’T accept pets, don’t get ugly, but simply tell them that is against the law & FEMA established that after Hurricane Katrina!
The PETS Act was approved by Congress after a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report on “Lessons Learned”during Hurricane Katrina identified a need to have plans in place to shelter evacuees with pets and service animals after Hurricane Katrina. Under the law, emergency shelters operated by state and local governments are required to have plans in place to rescue, care for, shelter and provide for the essential needs of household pets.
FEMA explains that while it’s true emergency shelters under disaster response plans are required to accept pets under the PETS Act, the law does not apply to private hotels:
Hotels and motels participating 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.
Unfortunately, there have been many accounts of evacuees with pets being denied accommodations at hotels, and that’s not against the law. Many hotels voluntarily waive no-pet policies during natural disasters, and some hotel chains are known for being pet-friendly even when there isn’t a disaster. But again, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure pets are welcome before setting out for a hotel.
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