Published: Jul 08, 2011 9:33 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 27, 2012 11:33 PM EDT

HURRICANE CENTRAL - Having an evacuation plan for your family should also include your pets. There are places for you and your furry loved one to go when a hurricane strikes.

The best thing to do when a storm threatens is to leave and bring your pets with you. Make plans now to stay at a friend's house or at a pet-friendly hotel out of the storm's path. If you can't get out of town, there is one more option. Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties all have pet-friendly shelters open to dogs, cats and their owners.

In Lee County that shelter is located at South Fort Myers High. The shelter is on a first come, first served basis and no registration is needed. It can only be used by residents in the area under evacuation.

In Collier County you can take your dogs and cats to North Collier Regional Park but you will need to register before a storm. Once a storm warning has been issued, you will not be allowed to register.

In Charlotte County, you and your dogs and cats can take refuge at Port Charlotte Middle school. You do not need to register first.

No matter where you live though, the shelters all have the same requirements.

--You must remain at the shelter with your pets the entire time.

--You are required to take care of your pets. That means providing crates large enough to house your pet and litter box if you're bringing a cat, providing food, water and medications, and you must clean up after them.

--You will also have to show proof of current vaccinations at the time of a storm.

--Sick animals will not be allowed in the shelters.

These shelters will be open on an as needed basis and may not be opened for every storm, so it's a good idea to have another plan in place.

For more information on pet-friendly hotels, click on this link.