Animals find safe refuge for Hurricane Irma

Local animal boarding facilities are filling up fast as people scramble to find safe places for their four-legged family members before Hurricane Irma hits Florida. 

The Pet Spot in Lake City has cats and dogs set up in the lobby and animal bathroom -- in addition to all their kennels -- to ensure that every animal has a safe place to stay. 

“We have more animals coming,” owner Becky Holloway said. “Some people are passing through and dropping their animals off on their way north and some are from our regular customers leaving town.” 

Hosting animals from Merritt Island, Amelia Island, Wellborn and Lake City as of Friday, The Pet Spot has been taking in animals from all over Florida. Once the storm hits, Holloway is ready to make sure that every animal is taken care of during Hurricane Irma. 

“I’m staying here,” Holloway said. “A customer lent us their generator, so if the power goes out, at least we’ll have fans for the dogs.” 

According to Holloway, most people are leaving their pets in boarding because they’re traveling somewhere that doesn’t allow pets, or staying with friends or family that have other animals or won’t allow animals in their homes. 

Although these animals are away from their homes and families, there is plenty of food, water, toys and room to run at The Pet Spot. 

“No, not here,” Holloway said when asked whether the animals were sad to be away from home. “They’re happy here.” 

Holloway said that although the animals are happy to be there, a lot of dogs get scared during storms, and has encouraged pet owners to bring their pets’ anxiety medication if they’re on any to ensure they don’t get panicked. 

Lake City Animal Hospital is another boarding facility that’s filling up fast with pets from all over the state. 

“People from South Florida are flooding in,” Lake City Animal Hospital employee Tami Chesney said. “Some aren’t able to stay in our area so they’re dropping of their pets and continuing north.” 

The animal hospital has received pets from as far south as Miami, with more coming in. As of Friday, the hospital said it is planning on caring for as many animals as it can through the duration of the storm. 

“We’re getting them in as they come and we’re doing what we can,” Chesney said. “We haven’t turned anyone away, but we have a full house.” 

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Lake City Reporter

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