Of all of the warnings emergency officials issue, the message about animals is often lost. Even well-prepared families sometimes forget about their pets — until it's too late.
Hurricane Katrina was a tragic example, as so many in New Orleans refused to evacuate without pets, knowing their animals wouldn't survive if left behind. Others were forced to abandon pets.
Many lives likely were lost because people refused to leave their pets; 600,000 pets died or were left homeless.
Most public shelters will not accept pets. Those that do accept only dogs and cats, although Hillsborough accepts ferrets and birds. If you own any other kind of pet, you will have to make other arrangements.
If you take your pet to a shelter, store in plastic a photo of you and your pet in case you are separated, as well as vaccination paperwork, which is required by shelters and boarding facilities. Label items with your name and your pet's name, including a carrier or crate large enough for your pet to move around in.
Some hotels and motels accept pets. Visit pinellascounty.org/emergency/petpreparedness. htm for information.
Here are shelters that take pets:
Pinellas County: Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S Belcher Road, Clearwater; Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 3901 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg; Dunedin Highland Middle School, 70 Patricia Ave. Preregistration is required at pinellascounty.org (click on "Departments," then on "Animal Services"); or call (727) 582-2150.
Citrus County: Lecanto Primary School, 3790 W Educational Path.
Hernando County: D.S. Parrott Middle School, 19220 Youth Drive, Brooksville.
Hillsborough County: Smith Middle School, 14303 Citrus Pointe Drive, Tampa; Strawberry Crest High School, 4691 Gallagher Road, Dover; Bartels Middle School, 9020 Imperial Oak Blvd., Tampa; Shields Middle, 15732 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin.
Pasco County: Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter, 11611 Denton Ave., Hudson.