In this study, six key officials involved in the response to Hurricane Harvey underwent a semi-structured interview to investigate the impact of the Pets Emergency and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act on preparedness and response. Though the results have limitations due to the low sample size, it was found that the PETS Act and the lessons of Hurricane Katrina had contributed to a positive cultural shift to including pets (companion animals) in emergency response. However, there was a general theme that plans required under the PETS Act were under-developed and many of the animal response lessons from previous emergencies remain unresolved. The study also observed the first empirical case of disaster hoarding which highlights the need for animal law enforcement agencies to be active in emergency response.
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 became the genesis of animal emergency management and created significant reforms in the US particularly the passage of the PETS Act in 2006 that required state and local emergency management arrangements to be pet- and service animal-inclusive. More than a decade later Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf states with all 68 directly related deaths occurring in the state of Texas.