Pet owners have to make difficult decisions during hurricane season. Hurricane Irma , for instance, prevented many people in SWFL from earning money. Then, they had to spend money for evacuation related expenses, such as gasoline and lodging, when the natural disaster struck. Taking pets may not be feasible under these conditions as the extra expenditure would be a significant hit to the owner's pocketbook.
The Dog Resort in Fort Myers provides inexpensive and reliable shelter for animals of many SWFL residents. Think daycare but for animals. Furry friends are dropped at the local alternative to dog kennels to weather the storm when their families have to evacuate. They can play with toys, splash in in the pool and have constant attention in its 5,000 square foot facility.
“Some of our regular dogs come and hang out here during hurricanes so their parents can evacuate or do whatever they need to do - we have staff here and there’s never been a problem,” Linda Grimshaw said, an employee of the Dog Resort.
When a hurricane hits, you don’t want your pet stuck in a dangerous situation.
Grimshaw recommends having a bag packed and ready to go.
“They’re gonna be in a different environment,” Grimshaw said. “They’re gonna be stressed out so you wanna have things from home.”
Food, bowls and carriers are excellent items to have. As are bedding, litter boxes, medications, toys, treats and county issued identification.
A favorite among furry animals at the Dog Resort are t-shirts. The t-shirts smells like the dog owner and is psychologically comforting for the pet.
Tyler Randall, president of Randall Equities Inc., will have local friends that are not evacuating take care of his french bulldog, Kobe, when he leaves for a hurricane. Kobe becomes depressed when Randall, 32, leaves, avoiding foods and mopping around. It takes a toll on him. He has searched for ways to prevent Kobe from being sad.
“If your dog gets stressed out during storms, it’s really a good idea to have a thunder shirt or all natural calming remedies," Grimshaw said. "Some dogs even have anti-anxiety medications so you definitely want to have them with you."
Lee County Emergency Management opens every shelter to evacuees with pets . For instance, there were 14 shelters open during Hurricane Irma that accommodated more than 3,500 pets. However, the owner must stay with the pet during its duration at the shelter.
“People tend to leave their dogs when they evacuate,” Grimshaw said. “Please don’t leave your dogs.”
She stresses the importance of planning ahead.
“You gotta have a plan A and you have to have a plan B,” she said, "and you gotta have your dogs shot records in your hand."