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Shelter issues & pet-friendly shelters

May 18, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

General Population Shelters

What you need to know:

Lee County, as well as the greater Southwest Florida region, has a shortage of evacuation shelters. If you have a safe place to evacuate too, plan to use your alternate location rather than a public shelter. Shelters offer only basic, life-sustaining necessities. Shelters are not able to provide any conveniences or luxuries and are not hotels. Keep in mind, the electricity could go out during part of your stay at the shelter.

Places to evacuate that are a better option than a public shelter:

* Your house, if you are not in an area under evacuation and do not live in a mobile or manufactured home.

* A friend or family member outside of evacuation zones.

* A hotel or motel outside of evacuation zones

* Another part of Florida not under evacuation.

If you have no safe place to go, shelters will be open.

Service animals: Serve animals are allowed in all shelters and are defined as a dog or miniature horse trained to perform a service or task for their owners, and are not pets.

What is not allowed: Weapons, smoking and alcoholic beverages are not allowed in any shelters.

Preparing to go to a shelter: Not all shelters are open for every storm. Only those shelters that are safe from the direction and intensity of each storm will open. Local radio, TV and will broadcast open shelters.

Food and water will be available, but there may be a slight delay in initial service. If you want or need special food items, bring them with you. Cots are not provided in general population shelters.

Somethings to bring to a shelter:

* Patience

* Drinking water

* Snacks or special foods

* Lawn chair or bed roll

* Books, magazines or electronic entertainment item with headphones

* Medications (prescription & over the counter)

* Change of clothing/personal hygiene items

Arriving at a shelter: Register with shelter staff and, if you leave, check out with shelter staff. Accountability is important for your safety.

Having a positive attitude will be helpful to everyone. Having to go to a shelter in advance of a hurricane is stressful for all. Shelters are crowded and noisy. Being considerate will help remind others to do the same. Listen for official information and no not participate in rumors or gossip. Ask the shelter staff for clarification if necessary. Consider volunteering to help the shelter staff.

Pet-friendly shelter

In a hurricane, pets are subject to the same hazards as we are and have many of the same needs. Lee County Domestic Animal Services manages pet shelter operations. Pet shelters will be available in every storm; locations may vary. Check media broadcasts and for storm-specific shelter information. No pre-registration is required. To ensure the safety of others, please make arrangements for alternate sheltering plans for any animals that pose a danger.

The best plan for your pet is to identify a location out of the area that allows pets, such as a friend's home or hotel. That way, you can keep your pets with you when you evacuate. There are many websites that can help locate hotels that accept pets, is one.

Prepare a supply kit for your pets:

* Non-perishable food and water

* medications

* sturdy cage or carrier to comfortably hold your pet

* collar and leash

* Up-to-date vaccination records

Also, keep several photos to help identify your pet should you become separated. Place identification on your pet's collar or consider using a microchip to identify your pet. Microchipping will make it easier to locate your pet if you become separated during an emergency. Animal Services offers a program to Lee County pet owners. More information is available at or 239-533-7387.

Things to remember:

* Never leave a pet outside during a storm.

* Never leave a cat with a dog, even if the two are friends.

* Confine and keep small pets (birds, hamsters, etc.) away from cats and dogs.

* Dangerous animals should be secured in special crates or cages.

* Any animals posing a danger will be at risk of being destroyed.

* All animal facilities in the path of a hurricane are subject to some degree of damage or flooding. Keep in mind, boarding kennels may be without electricity or potable water and have limited personnel and supplies for days or weeks following a disaster.

* If you have exotic pets, check with your veterinarian for suggestions on shelters for them.

If you plan and prepare early before hurricanes are threatening, you and your pets will be ready when the storms arrive.

Source: Lee County Emergency Management



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