Matt and his dog Meeka speak to CNN’s Randi Kaye

*If you knew that certain death awaited your pet if you left it behind in an emergency, would you do it anyway? 

Matt Varga had run all around his Kendall, Florida neighborhood to find a store with a pet carrier to accommodate his dog’s flight.

They were among the hundreds of people forced to evacuate and escape the harsh realities of devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma. But even though he went to 10 different stores, all of the carriers were sold out.

When he went to the airlines to board his flight, both he and his dog, Meeka, were denied. The strict federal regulations on how pets can be transported on planes says pets must have an approved carrier for the animal.

Of course, once word reached social media, all hell broke loose. After Varga granted CNN an interview the incident drew ire from pet lovers all over. Even anchor Anderson Cooper spoke out saying the airline should have made an exception in this case.

“It’s not a huge dog,” Cooper said of Meeka. “You would think they’d make an exception,” he said after the interview.

Such “exceptions” have come to pass…in the past. But it takes two things to make it happen: guts and  compassion. Social media users referenced the Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada last year, when a pilot for energy company Suncor stepped out against policy to save 36 pets from the blaze — including cats, dogs, hedgehogs, a chinchilla and some frogs.

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