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Preparing for a hurricane when you own a pet

Pet Evacuations
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 05:30:00-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — Be prepared before a hurricane hits.

It’s the golden rule living in Southwest Florida and if you’re a pet owner, knowing where you can evacuate from a hurricane is crucial.

Pet Owners like Dave Aiken, who evacuated back in 2017 during Hurricane Irma said caring for a pet during an emergency is not a last-second decision.

“You have to do it like you were planning to bring a baby along,” said Aiken.

Ask any pet owner, and like Aiken, they will agree, that their four-legged friend is their baby.

Karen Fordiani, the Pubic Information Specialist for Lee County Domestic Animal Services echoed a similar message.

“People get on the road and then they don't know where to stay with their pets," said Fordiani.

Fordiani, said there are select evacuation shelters in lee county that accept pets.

  1. South Fort Myers High School 
  2. East Lee County High School

Before you arrive, Fordiani said pets will need essentials like food and water plus a collar and leash, along with a sturdy pet carrier.

She also recommends getting your pets microchipped.

“Micro-chipped pets if they get displaced from owners get reunited a lot quicker,” said Fordiani.

At their shelter location in Fort Myers, Fordiani said they provide people with pamphlets that show which surrounding hotels are pet friendly.

Regardless of where you go, packing for your pet is a must.

“You want to make sure there is a kit prepared ahead of time just like you would for yourself, that way you aren't scrambling to make sure you have everything,” said Fordiani.

Pet owners like Dave Aiken say food, water, pet medications, and vet records are key.

“We evacuated to our daughter's place north of Tampa... I have got an army bag backpack that I keep in the car,” said Aiken.

Aiken said since Irma, a lot of pet owners have become more prepared.

A good sign for Fordiani who has witnessed pet owners struggling to evacuate.

“People did not come with leashes, collars, or crates,” said Fordiani when asked about Hurricane Irma.

Fordiani said depending on the strength of the storm, the county will make more shelters pet friendly.

But before any hurricane approaches...

“Be prepared, you can't prepare enough,” said Fordiani.

Click here for more information from Lee County Domestic Animal Services on evacuating with a pet.