While some people left their pets behind when they fled their homes to escape Hurricane Irma, others had taken steps to save their furry family members. One of these prepared citizens was Matt Varga from Kendall, Florida, who was forced to evacuate when his town came into Irma's path.
Although he searched desperately for a carrier to put his beloved dog, Meeka, in for the journey, every shop had sold out of them. But he headed to the airport anyway, in the hopes of saving himself and his pet.
When he tried to board the plane with Meeka in his arms, however, staff told him that he couldn't get his flight, because the puppy wasn't in a pet carrier. Matt told CNN:
I waited an hour at the agent's office, and… I don't have a pet carrier. They won't let me on a flight without a pet carrier. […] I went to 10 different stores [to find one]. I'll go back to Kendall and wait out the storm.
While restrictions concerning animals are strict for security and safety reasons, many people have spoken out against the decision, including TV presenter Anderson Cooper, who said that Meeka "isn't a big dog. They should have made an exception."
The decision seems especially harsh after news of similar situations, in which restrictions were lifted to save animal lives, has come to light. In 2016, after wildfires consumed much of the Fort McMurray area of Canada, people fleeing their homes brought their pets with them in a desperate attempt to save them.
A pilot from the energy company Suncor, which owned an airport in the area, broke the rules to allow over 100 animals onto his flights. At the time the pilot, Keith Mann, told The Huffinton Post:
I didn’t want our personnel to be faced with the decision of whether to separate these people from their pets. So I made the executive decision.
Unfortunately, In this case Matt and Meeka were forced to head back to their home, despite the danger of the hurricane. Luckily, concerned people from around the world were reassured by Varga's sister that the inseparable pair were safe.
While Matt and Meeka survived, there is no doubt that others were not so lucky. As of now, more than 40 people and many animals are reported to have died.
Source: Scott Olson
H/t: The Huffington Post
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