Prep your pets for Hurricane Irma

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As Hurricane Irma intensifies, veterinarians are reminding pet owners to be ready in case the storm hits our area.

Dr. Donna McWilliams of My Pet's Animal Hospital in Lakeland says there is still time to make sure you have everything checked off your pet's list of necessities.

Here's what it should include:

-Two weeks of pet food and water

-One-month supply of medications

-Comfort items like blankets, toys, and crates

-Consider something to keep your pet's nerves under wraps

McWilliams uses a so-called 'calming collar' on her own dog, Barley, a lab Great Pyrenees mix. She also says there are sprays and scents that promise to keep your critter calm.

Experts say you should definitely have your pet microchipped in case it gets lost. A microchip stores basic information like your name and number. You need a microchip reader, which most of us don't have, to retrieve the info.

You can use your phone to retrieve information from a QR tag that attaches to your pet's collar. It stores more information than a microchip. Vets recommend you use both a microchip and QR tag together.

With Irma coming, My Pet's Animal Hospital is offering microchips at-cost - about $25.

If evacuations were to be ordered, many hotels offer accommodations for pets. To find a pet-friendly hotel, visit

Most Tampa Bay Area counties have shelters designated as pet-friendly. Space, however, is limited and some counties require pet owners to pre-register their pets. Emergency planners say shelters should be a last resort. They suggest asking family or friends in non-evacuation zones to keep your pets or arrange with a local veterinarian or pet groomer about boarding pets.

If you plan to bring your pet to a pet-friendly shelter, you must meet certain requirements. Owners must supply proof of any required vaccinations and show that their pets are licensed. Owners must also supply their own pet food, and pets must be crated. Emergency planners suggest bringing pet toys and any other comfort items as well.  A leash is required anytime pets are not crated.       

The following is a county-by-county list of pet-friendly shelters in the Tampa Bay Area.

Hillsborough County: There are four pet-friendly shelters in Hillsborough County.  Space is limited, so officials say plan ahead, and bring proof of vaccinations and registration.  The shelters are located at:

-Burnett Middle School at 1010 N. Kingsway Road in Seffner
-Sgt. Smith Middle School at 14303 Citrus Pointe Drive in Tampa
-Bartels Middle School at 9020 Imperial Oak Blvd in Tampa
-Shields Middle School at 15732 Beth Shields Way in Ruskin

Pinellas County: Pet owners must pre-register to use one of the three pet-friendly shelters offered in Pinellas County. Space is limited and first priority is given to mobile home residents. The shelters are located at:

-Oak Grove Middle School at 1370 S. Belcher Road in Clearwater
-John Hopkins Middle School at 701 16th Street S. in St. Petersburg
 -Dunedin Middle School at 70 Patricia Ave. in Dunedin

Polk County: There are three pet-friendly shelters in Polk County. Pet owners are highly encouraged to pre-register their pets to ensure there is enough space.  The locations of the pet-friendly shelters are:

-Lake Region High School at 1995 Thunder Road in Eagle Lake
-Alta Vista Elementary School at 801 Scenic Highway, Haines City
-Philip O’Brien Elementary School at 1225 E. Lime St., Lakeland

Pasco County: The Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter is the only pet-friendly shelter designated for Pasco County.  There is a two pet limit and proof of vaccines is required. The shelter is located at 11611 Denton Ave. in Hudson.

Sarasota County: There are six dog and cat-friendly shelters in Sarasota County, located at:

-Brookside Middle School at 3636 S. Shade Ave. in Sarasota
-Riverview High School at 1 Ram Way in Sarasota
-Pine View School at 501 Old Venice Rd. in Osprey
-North Port High School at 6400 W. Price Blvd in North Port
-Heron Creek Middle School at 6501 W. Price Blvd in North Port
-Woodland Middle School AT 2700 Panacea Blvd. in North Port

Manatee County: There are three pet-friendly shelters in Manatee County. Pet owners are required to stay at the shelter with their pets, and pets must arrive in a carrier or cage. The locations of the pet-friendly shelters are:

-Braden River High at 6545 SR 70 East, Bradenton
-Manatee High School at1000 32nd Street West, Bradenton
-Mills Elementary School at 7200 69th Street East, Palmetto

Hernando County: D.S. Parrott Middle School, located at 19220 Youth Drive in Brooksville, is the only designated pet-friendly shelter for Hernando County.

Citrus County: Pet owners in Citrus County can shelter with their pets at Lecanto Primary School, located at 3790 West Educational Path, Lecanto

Hardee County does not currently have a pet-friendly shelter.  Pet owners are advised to contact your local veterinarian or groomer for possible boarding locations.


-Tampa Bay Area sandbag information 

-Track Hurricane Irma

-Report Price Gouging to the price gouging hotline

-BE PREPARED: Printable Hurricane supply list from

-Make sure your home is hurricane ready

-Flood risk and insurance information

-Florida flood zones and evacuation maps  

-For a FEMA emergency supply checklist click here.