News or Noise: Posts claim that hotels must waive no-pet policies during natural disasters

September 13, 2017 11:45 PM

In News or Noise, Jennifer Mobilia sorts through information being disseminated on social media, and determines what's real and fake.

Between hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes.

Not only worried about their safety, but also the safety of their four-legged family members, you may have seen social media posts claiming that during natural disasters, hotels must allow pets -- regardless of their policy. But is it News or Noise?

A post by the page Florida Friends with Pets reads, "If you are evacuating to a hotel or motel and they say they DON'T accept pets, don't get ugly, but simply tell them that is against the law."

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The post says The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act started requiring hotels take in your pets and service animals after Hurricane Katrina. But are they really required to accept pets?

When it comes to service animals – the answer is yes. Regardless of the weather, service animals are always excluded from hotel "pet policies" under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As for our family cats and dogs, FEMA addressed the claim on its Rumor Control page, stating "reports that hotels and motels participating in the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program are legally required to accommodate pets. This is FALSE."

Prior to Hurricane Harvey, FEMA did release guidelines for pet owners say, "Go online and locate several 'pet-friendly' hotels in and out of your area." Nowhere does it say hotels are required to accept pets during natural disasters.

That being said, Florida Governor Rick Scott did in fact urged hotels that ban pets to welcome pet owners fleeing Hurricane Irma. So while many hotels did waive their pet policy and accept pets evacuating the hurricane, this post is mostly noise.


Jennifer Mobilia

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