Here in Florida, hurricanes can seem commonplace.  There’s a temptation to take them lightly.  But it’s worth remembering that they are unpredictable forces of nature that command respect.

When Hurricane Dorian battered the southeast coast, my mom and I were prepared to evacuate, but even with preparation, things can go wrong.  Our plan hit a snag when we learned the hotel overbooked, leaving us stranded.  The manager was able to make arrangements with another nearby hotel:  a pet-free hotel, meaning no pets allowed.  Thankfully, they made an exception and we waited out the storm safely.


Davi last year during Hurricane Dorian, hunkered down in a hotel!

Rule of Paw:  expect the unexpected.

June 1st through November 30th is hurricane season.  This can be a frightening time for pets and humans.  Having an emergency plan in place is the key to survival. Your human should take measures to prepare now to dodge the devastating effects from these storms.

Make a Plan: 

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a hurricane.  It is important to plan ahead to avoid last-minute surprises and confusion when the storm hits.

If you have to evacuate, find a safe place ahead of time. If you plan to stay at a local shelter, find out which locations allow pets and know all requirements – shelters require up-to-date vaccinations and certain supplies for pets.  If you plan to stay at a hotel, know which locations will accept pets.  Once a storm is approaching, hotels fill up quickly, so be sure to call ahead and make a reservation.

If you must ride out the storm at home, be prepared for what could be a rough 12 to 24 hours. Identify a safe room to hunker down and store emergency supplies. Be sure all windows and doors are closed and stay tuned to local reports.

Always Wear ID:

If you go missing during or after the storm, you’re more likely to be found if you are wearing a collar with identification tags. Better yet, get microchipped.  Have your human store your ID number and chip records in her phone and share with a friend or family member. That way, if her phone gets lost, you can still be reunited.

Take pictures.  Lots of pets look alike, so keeping a current photo showing your unique features will help eliminate mistaken identity.

Create a Pet Emergency Kit:

This is not that much different from a human one.   Pack enough food and water for five days and sturdy bowls to store and serve meals.  Include plenty of poop bags and litter scoop to clean up waste. Keep medication and health records handy and stored in a waterproof pouch.  A pet first-aid kit is also necessary, and don’t forget toys to keep entertained. Prepare a comfortable crate in case you need to evacuate.

After the Storm: 

While assessing the damage with your human, stay leashed.  Unfamiliar scents stirred up by the storm may excite or alarm pets – animals can easily get disoriented in such situations.  Hazards like downed power lines and trees are also dangers that could harm pets.

Remember, animals need emotional support, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs while weathering the storm together.


Would you like to know more about resources available in Jacksonville to help pet owners prepare for a disaster? The Jacksonville Humane Society has a list of available options for you.



About the Author:
Davi is a brown dachshund with an appetite for adventure. He is the former canine columnist for Folio Weekly Magazine and is currently sniffing out stories for Unleash Jacksonville. He loves sweet potato treats, playing at the park with friends, and exploring the unknown.

JHS is seeking Storm Troopers to temporarily care for our dogs, cats, and kittens during Hurricane Dorian. Interested families can stop by the JHS Adoption Center between 10am and 5pm on Sunday, September 1, and between 12pm and 4pm on Monday, September 2. Please bring photo ID and enter through our main Adoption & Education Center entrance.

We are asking that families hold pets until at least Friday, September 6. Due to a high call volume, we ask that you message us on Facebook or just come in person. We’re located at 8464 Beach Blvd.

Storm Trooper foster families will be provided with pet food, leashes, and collars.

For additional details, visit

The best rule of thumb for hurricanes is to BE PREPARED!

In case of an emergency, being prepared is always the safest bet! Here’s a checklist of items that you can include in your disaster kit for your pets:

  1. Food & water for at least 5 days, per pet
  2. Medications & medical info in a waterproof container – if you are planning to board your pets or go to a pet-friendly shelter, bring up-to-date vaccination records
  3. Sturdy leashes, collars with identification, carriers to transport your pets
  4. Cat litter, litter box, scoop and garbage bags – don’t forget poop bags for dogs!
  5. Current photos of your pets with descriptions
  6. Written information for your pets that includes medication and behavior info, in case you have to leave your pets in boarding or foster care

Other useful items include:

Click here for a printable version of this checklist.

If you are a Duval County resident and need to evacuate, please click here to find your government-operated pet-friendly shelter or use the JaxReady app. Pet-friendly shelters include Mandarin MiddleLandmark MiddleLegends Community Center and Chimney Lakes Elementary School.*

In Duval County, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (buses, skyway, trolley) will allow certain animals on their vehicles during state of emergency situations. Click here for more information.*

Below is a list of websites to help you find pet-friendly motels:

Do you care for feral or community cats? Click here for a guide on how to best prepare.

Click here to read more about preparing for disaster with your pet from the ASPCA. Thank you for keeping your pets safe during storms!

*This information is subject to change. Always verify with the City of Jacksonville website.