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Pet-Friendly Shelters: True or False

When disaster hits, know what to expect before you go to a pet-friendly shelter

When a disaster hits - whether natural or manmade - you should already have a plan in place for your family members, including your four-legged ones. Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center (PRC) strongly recommends that your main plan be to evacuate outside of your evacuation zone, either to a family or friend's house or to a pet-friendly hotel. However, PRC also recommends having a backup plan that could include staying at one of Hillsborough County's pet-friendly shelters as a last resort.

But do you know what to expect at pet-friendly shelters? Test your knowledge to make sure you know before you go.

True or false? A Pet-friendly shelter should be my last resort for evacuation.

TRUE. Never leave your pet behind or let it be a reason not to evacuate. Hillsborough County will have several pet-friendly shelters open during an emergency, but they should ONLY be used as a last resort due to limited sheltering space for pets. Staying with family or friends or at a pet-friendly hotel should always be your first option, as that will be more comfortable than staying at a public shelter. Keep in mind that a pet-friendly shelter is simply a holding area to provide shelter for those who could not either shelter in place or evacuate.

True or false? My pet stays with me while I'm at the shelter.

FALSE. You will not be able to stay with your pet while at the pet-friendly shelter. Your pet will be placed in a designated area for their own safety and the safety of other shelter residents. It is a secure area overseen by PRC staff and trained volunteers. Only service animals that are specifically trained to perform a function (not including emotional support animals) will be able to stay with their owners at the pet-friendly shelter.

True or false? I will be able to see my pet while at the pet-friendly shelter.

TRUE. Even though your pet is not allowed to stay with you at the pet-friendly shelter, you will be caring for your pet - feeding, walking, and giving medication, if needed - during designated times determined by PRC staff. The visits will be for only one person and during that time, you'll be caring for your pet. PRC staff will inform you of the designated times when you check your pet in. Keep in mind that the designated times could be spaced out up to six hours apart. PRC staff and volunteers will be on hand to monitor your pet's safety, if anything arises.

True or false? The shelter provides all of the supplies to take care of my pet.

FALSE. You will need to bring all the supplies needed to care for your pet with you to the shelter. A carrier or crate that your pet is able to stand up and turn around in is a must. They will be kept in the carrier/crate during their stay. Supplies also include medication, food for up to two weeks, water, bowls, waste bags, litter and litter box for any cats, vaccination records, and any comfort items, such as a favorite blanket or toy. Bring detailed care instructions with your pet's supplies to ensure all information is known even though you will be taking care of your pet during designated times.

True or false? I have a pet horse so she can come to the pet-friendly shelter with me.

FALSE. Only domesticated pets are allowed in pet-friendly shelters in Hillsborough County. Livestock like horses, cows, chickens, and pigs are not allowed. To learn how to prepare larger animals for a disaster, check out UF/IFAS Extension.

Helpful tips for making a plan:

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