Manatee County, Florida, Hurricane Shelters Filling Up, Pet Restrictions Now Waived

As Hurricane Irma’s expected track continues to evolve, areas throughout Florida such as Manatee County quickly issued evacuation orders. In Manatee County, the government has issued a mandatory evacuation for anyone in Level A. Those living in Level B have a voluntary evacuation, which means that residents in this area are advised to leave, but won’t be forced to do so.

Last Minute Shelter Change Will Save Many Pets

Unfortunately, many originally found themselves faced with a very difficult decision to make; whether to stay put and attempt to ride out the storm at home with their pets or to choose a shelter that wouldn’t take the furry members of their family. That’s because only three shelters in all of Manatee County were accepting pets, and they were filling up fast.

There’s great news for pet lovers in Manatee County now, though: all shelters have opened their doors to your animals! Therefore, if you were staying home because there was nowhere to take your pets, you can now load up your entire family and temporarily move to a safer location.

Shelters Filling Up, and Some Are Closed

Before getting into the huge traffic jam, it’s imperative to be aware that some shelters are full, and a few others haven’t even opened. As of this writing, two shelters have reached capacity: Braden River High School and Oneco Elementary.

The following shelters are listed as accepting pets if they do eventually open, but they’re currently still closed: Johnson Middle School and Miller Elementary. Officials urge Manatee County residents to head to the shelter that’s closest in order to minimize traffic issues.

Rescue workers at Manatee County Florida work with pets

What Pet Owners Must Know Before Going to Shelters

Pets are accepted at all shelters now due to the size of the emergency, which is part of a Florida law that was influenced by all of the fatalities caused by Hurricane Katrina shelters refusing to provide a safe haven for people with animals. The governor has also asked hotels to accept pets during the sheltering period, but it’s not clear if most of them are following this request.

Even though you can take your pet to any Manatee County shelter, you do have to follow a strict list of guidelines to be allowed inside. Make sure you take all of the necessary steps to safeguard your pet’s life, including bringing a crate or cage, keeping your animal inside their cage or crate at all times, bringing all necessary food and other pet supplies with you, and having proof that they’ve been vaccinated for rabies.

Cat in cage at Manatee County Florida Hurricane Shelter

There will be designated exercise times for pets, so they won’t be confined 24/7. However, when they’re allowed outside of their crate or cage, owners must not permit other shelter dwellers to touch their pets. Be aware that owners are solely responsible for all care and feeding.

Animals should have proper tags on, and be sure to bring bowls, enough food for at least three days, a manual can opener, any necessary medication, newspapers or plastic bags to dispose of waste and anything else the pet will need to feel comfortable.

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Manatee County as a Category 3 hurricane. Stock up on necessary supplies right now because all Publix grocery stores will be closed by tomorrow at noon. By following all of these rules, Florida pet owners living in Manatee County can do what’s right for them, their family and their beloved pets.

[Image by Stephen B. Morton/AP images]