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Pet day cares helping families through Hurricane Irma

Posted at 4:24 AM, Sep 08, 2017

While thousands of families evacuating from the path of Hurricane Irma, transporting beloved pets can make the experience troublesome.

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A lot of shelters don't accept animals.  However, countless dogs, cats, birds and other pets need somewhere to go for the storm. It can be very difficult to evacuate the state by car or plane with pets,  especially if you have several animals.

That's why local pet day cares are stepping up to help.

Lauren Torres and her family aren't taking any chances on Irma.

"We have no control over this. It's mother nature! She is who she is," she told WPTV on Thursday.

That's why her family of five is evacuating to Georgia, but they couldn't travel with all three cats or a dog by plane.

On Thursday, Torres dropped off her cats at Furs & Feathers Resort in West Palm Beach. Torres' dog will be cared for by neighbors.

"That's added anxiety to any family situation," said Torres. "It's one of those situations, it's sad. If you can get out, you get out. If you can't you have to get prepared."

The Furs & Feathers Resort has taken in close to 100 dogs, cats and birds.

"It's a lot of emotions for people. Added with the stress of not knowing what's going to happen to their homes, neighborhoods, friends," said Aysil Brimhell, who runs the day care.

The phones have been ringing off the hook all week.  Unfortunately, like most day cares across Palm Beach County, Furs & Feathers is at full capacity.

"People are not sure what is going to happen. They're conflicted about leaving their pets behind but for a lot of people, it's their only option because there's not a lot of hotels where they can take them with them," said Brimhell.

The facility is shuttering their windows and putting staff in place to ride out the storm with the animals.

"We're taking a lot of precautions. We have a back up generator, we're completely shuttering up. We have lots of food provisions, water for all staff and pets staying here," said Brimhell.

Meanwhile, Pets Paradise in Riviera Beach is having to evacuate their facility.

"We have a van coming with crates from our Fort Lauderdale location to transport all of our guests that are staying here indefinitely, to evacuate with us," said manager Tessa Mosca.

Most owners have been able to claim their pets but the few left behind are in good hands as they leave for Naples. 

"We have a really good plan in place we have a safe location that we're going to so we're ready, as ready as we could be," said Mosca.

If you plan to ride out the storm with your pets, day care owners say you need to make sure your pets are tagged or chipped.

"If they unfortunately become lost from the storm so that they have a way to find their way back to their owners," said Mosca.

And do what you can to keep your animal calm.

"Make sure you keep an eye on your pets. Love on them. Dogs feed off of your emotions, if you're calm, they're gonna be calm with you," said Brimhell.

On Thursday, WPTV checked around Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties and found most animal day cares are fully booked.  WPTV could only find one location in Vero Beach that had three spaces left. Most places are either evacuated or are even closed due to the storm.

You may have to search at least 100 miles north of West Palm Beach to find day cares that have plenty of room.

There are some places that could have some cancelations closer to West Palm Beach, so be sure to call and check.