With Hurricane Irma surging toward Florida, many residents are attempting to evacuate the state with their pets — and some are facing trouble.
Matt Varga of Kendall, Florida, tried to leave by plane on Thursday, but was denied entrance to the flight he booked because he didn’t have a carrier for his dog, Meeka.
Varga told CNN reporter Randi Kaye that he checked 10 different locations for a pet carrier before arriving at Miami International Airport, but every store was sold out. Because of the dangerous circumstances, Varga hoped the airline would make an exception and allow him to carry his dog on.
“I waited an hour in line at the agent office, and I don’t have a pet carrier and they won’t let me on without a pet carrier,” he told CNN.
Varga did not mention which airline he booked a ticket with, and while many airlines are dropping their pet travel fees for those leaving states in Hurricane Irma’s path, no airlines have announced exceptions to the regulations they have in place regarding pet travel safety.
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In 2006, following the devastating effects Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which mandates that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have evacuation plans for people and their pets, reports The Huffington Post.
But even with this legislation in place, airlines and private businesses, like hotels, are not required to adjust their current pet policies in the event of a natural disaster.
For Varga, this means he’ll be riding out the storm at home: He told CNN that he plans to return to Kendall with Meeka, because leaving his dog behind is not an option.