Many of us here in South Florida spend the better part of the season supplying our homes with shutters, batteries, flashlights, generators, radios, food, water, and other personal necessities. Unfortunately, we often tend to overlook one of the most important aspects of the family, our pets. While conducting your hurricane shopping, always stock up on extra pet food, water, medication, and a litter pan and litter so your outdoor cat may relocate indoors. Set aside plastic grocery bags and leftover newspapers for easy pet clean up, and store supplies in a dry area with a manual can opener if needed.
During a storm, whipping winds, flying debris, and relentless rains can frighten anyone, never mind an animal naturally more sensitive to changes in the environment. A crate is one place where your pet may feel safe during the ravages of a storm, but make sure it is large enough to sleep, stand up, and turn around in. If he or she routinely becomes frightened during thunderstorms, you may want to speak with your vet about obtaining a mild sedative or having Benadryl available to calm nerves. Keep in mind medication may make your pet thirsty, and thereby in need of extra water and more frequent potty breaks.
Very few public shelters allow you to bring pets, so have a plan. If you decide ahead of time to evacuate, call, or visit the websites of hotels along your escape route to find out which hotels allow pets. Many non “pet-friendly” hotels will open their doors in an emergency as well. Be sure to inquire about size restrictions, additional fees, and any specific requirements they may have. Don’t forget to bring along current vaccination records.
Please don’t leave your pets behind. They will be frightened and alone, not to mention vulnerable to the elements if damage to your home allows for an escape. Remember, all it takes is a broken window for a pet to slip away, and familiar sights and smells leading back home may no longer exist after the storm passes.
If you’re caught last minute in an emergency situation and need to board your pet, a designated pet shelter or kennel may have availability, but strictly on a first-come, first-served basis. Boarding at a vet’s office or kennel will not guarantee anyone will be on the premises during the storm.
Since supplies will be harder to come by, you will need to bring along the following items: A crate, vaccination records, collar with ID, leash, a 7-10 day supply of food and water, litter (for cats), a photo, donated towels and medications if needed.
Keep in mind that when the storm has moved on and you are ready to come home, the damage left in the wake may prevent you from returning. After the storm, check your property for any upturned snakes and toads, nails, broken glass, sharp debris, or downed powerlines.
If your neighborhood has been severely damaged, walk your pet on a leash until he or she is once again familiar with the landscape. Do your part in donating pet supplies to disaster relief programs for needy animals in storm-struck areas, or perhaps visit a shelter and adopt an animal whose home may have been lost during a storm.
All pet-friendly shelters accept dogs, cats, domestic birds, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, and hamsters.
BROWARD PET-FRIENDLY HURRICANE SHELTERS
EVERGLADES HIGH SCHOOL
17100 SW 48 Court, Miramar, FL 33027
LYONS CREEK MIDDLE SCHOOL
4333 Sol Press Blvd., Coconut Creek 33073
FALCON COVE MIDDLE SCHOOL
4251 Bonaventure Blvd., Weston 33332
Service animals are permitted in General Population Shelters so long as the pet meets the requirements under Federal law.
PALM BEACH PET-FRIENDLY HURRICANE SHELTERS
WEST BOYNTON RECREATIONAL CENTER
6000 Northtree Blvd, Lake Worth, FL 33463
Only available to Palm Beach County residents who reside in a mandatory evacuation zone, in a mobile home, or sub-standard housing. Proof of residency will be required. All pets must be accompanied by only one owner who will stay inside the Pet-Friendly Shelter.
MIAMI DADE PET-FRIENDLY HURRICANE SHELTERS
E. DARWIN FUCHS PAVILION
10901 S.W. 24 Street, Miami, FL 33199
DR. MICHAEL M. KROP SENIOR HIGH
1410 NE 215 Street (County Line Road), Miami, FL 33179
Available to pet owners residing in evacuation zones, unsafe structures, or trailers. Proof of residency, vaccination, and license is mandatory.