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Shelter issues & pet-friendly shelters

May 28, 2019
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It is necessary to prepare an evacuation plan before hurricane season arrives, and you should have several options from which to choose. If your first option does not work and you have no other safe place to go, you should go to an Emergency Public Shelter.

Emergency public shelter

A shelter is a safe place to be during an emergency. However, it offers only the basic life-sustaining necessities, such as shelter from the weather; water and food; and sanitary services. The shelter will likely not have electricity for the majority of your stay. It will be noisy, crowded and somewhat uncomfortable. In a storm of similar size to those we have experienced here the past few decades, each person will be assigned 20 square feet of space to sleep and keep your things. In the event we are faced with a catastrophic storm, we will be focused on life safety and will bring into the shelter all those seeking refuge from the storm, reducing individual space allowance for a period of time.

Be sure the shelter is open before you go. All listed shelters will not be open for every storm. Local radio and television stations will announce which shelters are open. We cannot predict how long you may have to remain at the shelter, since we cannot predict how damaging the effects of each storm will be. Food will be provided, but you should bring some food items with you for between meals, or in case you do not like what is being served. If you have diet restrictions or require specialty foods, you must bring those.

You must bring your own personal hygiene items, sleeping bags/cots, blankets, towels and comfort items to the shelter. Being considerate of others and having a positive attitude will be helpful to everyone. Listen for official information and do not participate in gossip or rumors, which can be very disruptive. Volunteer to help whenever possible.

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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