Hurricane Preparation for You and Your Dog (other pets too)

Hurricane plan for dogs and cats and humans too.Although I hate to jump on the media hype for approaching storms, I strongly suggest having a plan that includes your pets.  My website has a page devoted completely to having a hurricane plan that includes your pets.  Please review the resources that I have provided and plan ahead.  http://www.dogtrainerinbroward.com/pet-hurricane-preparedness/

When Katrina passed through South Florida, I wrote an article about the pet friendly shelter for Broward residents at Millennium Middle School.  I think it is worth posting again for anyone in an evacuation zone.

Gimme Shelter: Reservations Not Required

pet friendly hurricane shelter broward county

Linda Sanders schedules walking and visitation times for each pet guest.

The pet friendly shelter in Tamarac was open for business once again this hurricane, but few took advantage of the fabulous amenities here.  At the time of my visit, 6:00 pm on the eve of Wilma, there were approximately 30 dogs and 30 people. Although they recommend pre-registration at the Humane Society, it was NOT required.  If you are not pre registered, they will take individuals and their pets on a first come-first served basis.  You will be required to fill out some paperwork and have proof of current vaccinations.  Pre-registered guests go through the first line paper free.  You must be in an evacuation zone to use the shelter.  The shelter takes most pets, but not reptiles, due to their special climate needs.
As I was taken around the shelter, it was clear that details of the needs of pets and owners were given much attention.  The facility is run by the Humane Society of Broward County (HSBC), the Red Cross, and Broward County.  The diverse staff works together to not only provide a clean organized space for evacuees, but kind, empathetic care to people and pets.  Sharron Carmichael, of the HSBC, was my guide and a wealth of information on the process and preparedness.  The work that she and the HSBC have done here is incredible.  The facility was immaculate and I was assured that when they left, the school would be cleaner than it was before the storm.

Don't leave your pets behind during a hurricane

Wristbands identify owners and their pets to the staff, as Ashley, Junior, and Albert Nickles prepare for a walk.

Upon arrival, photos are taken of each dog for identification outside each kennel.  Petco provided kennels for this shelter so that evacuees would not be required to have a kennel for each pet.  If you are pre-registered, you go to the next stop.  If not, you must fill out paperwork about names of pets and family members, etc.  Across the breezeway, on stop 2, each family member and pet is given an ID band with a control number.  That way, the staff can ensure that only family members are allowed to walk their dogs.  “This is not a petting zoo”, Sharron tells me, referring to the seriousness of the situation, reminding me that this is an emergency condition.  I’m glad she reminded me, because everyone is so upbeat and comforting, they still cannot afford to be casual about anything due to the circumstances.  As required for health reasons, the animals are kept in a separate building from the people.  At stop 3, Linda Sanders provides walking and visiting times for each pet.  As a behaviorist, I immediately saw the benefit of avoiding unfriendly dog meetings in the hallways.  Each pet is given a kennel in the appropriate room.  The gym has been converted into the dog area.  Plastic sheeting is run underneath all kennels.  Each owner is responsible for caring for and cleaning up after their pet.  A last goodnight is called at 10pm and then it’s bedtime for the pets.  The cat room also can be used to house ferrets and bunnies.  This night there was a bird at the shelter.  Back across the breezeway was the cafeteria where the Red Cross takes care of the human evacuees.  There is a TV and meals.  I also got a peek of the equipment room, housed in the girl’s locker room.  The Humane Society staff keeps their communication radio equipment and battery backup systems there so they can keep in touch across the breezeway during the storm.

The pet friendly hurricane shelter at Millennium Middle School in Tamarac

Junior settles in; safely identified for his family.

Sharron introduced me to 3 members of the Nickles family.  Albert and his daughter Ashley took me to see their Schnauzer named Junior.  This was their second experience at the facility this season.  Ashley was very distraught at the thought of evacuating without Junior.  Albert found the shelter to be “such a relief” and had “no concerns” about their stay.  They arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon after spending the morning preparing their mobile home in Davie for the storm, and attending church services.
Albert recommended bringing some necessities and some comfort items.  They packed their van with dog food, water, legal papers, wedding photos, baby pictures, extra clothes, a TV/VCR and tapes, and a mattress.  Ashley said the boredom was the hard part of the stay, so it is important to bring things to do.
I was so proud of this family for taking the initiative to have a plan and stick to it, despite the discomforts of leaving home.  The important thing was that they were all together and safe.

The pet friendly hurricane shelter cat section

The cat area is located in a classroom. The class prepared the room.

Pet Friendly Shelter Info At A Glance:
Located at:    Millenium Middle School
5803 NW 94th Ave
Tamarac, FL 33321
You must be in a zone that has been required to evacuate.

Bring with you the following for your pet:
Proof of rabies vaccination for each pet
Proof of Broward County Tag ID for each pet
Pet’s food and medication
Favorite toys and blankets
Collar, tag, and leash (no retractables)

Pre-registration is accepted at:

The pet friendly hurricane shelter dog section.

The dog area is located in the school’s gym.

The Humane Society of Broward County, 2070 Griffin Rd, Ft Lauderdale, FL 33312, (954) 989-3977.