Pets need an evacuation plan too

Posted at 5:15 PM, Oct 25, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - If you are 50 years or older and have pets or know someone who fits this category, you need to watch this.

When it comes to an emergency situation, like a hurricane, Florida has plans to help people, but not necessarily people with pets.

They pull at your heart strings every time they look up at you: owning a pet not only makes us happy, but helps us in some cases mentally and physically. This is especially true for older adults who live alone.

However when extreme emergencies happen, owning a pet can make for some difficult situations.

A team of FSU researchers found out that 34 percent of people over age 65 have pets and that access to pet-friendly shelters is limited.

There are 38 counties in Florida without pet-friendly shelters.

Only 29 out of the 67 counties in Florida have a plan to accommodate evacuees with pets and offer few shelters. One of the keys to helping those seniors with pets in an emergency is getting the information to them as early as possible.

"Information dissemination is critical and for older adults, it may be harder to reach out to them because they are not using the technology as much as we do, so we may need to reach out to them sooner," said Eren Ozguven, a professor of engineering at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

During Hurricane Irma, there were three pet accessible shelters that opened up in Leon County. However, in surrounding counties and rural communities people had to drive up to 20 miles for a pet friendly shelter.