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Elderly Face Challenges Evacuating With Pets

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Evacuating with companion pets can bring added challenges to hurricane season, particularly for elderly adults. Many seniors struggle to find pet-friendly shelters when it comes time to leave for safety.

Florida State University Professor Eren Ozguven says seniors are the group most reluctant to evacuate during hurricanes, sometimes due to worries about the safety of their pets. Take Hurricane Irma last year: Ozguven, a civil engineer at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, says many South Florida evacuees were left waiting in long lines after the pet friendly shelters quickly filled up. Ahead of the second half of this year’s hurricane season, Ozguven says there are a few things that can help seniors and their pets be better prepared to evacuate together.

“So they need to be aware of where the pet friendly shelter is, how accessible that shelter is, and most will probably need assistance to go to those shelters,” he says.

Ozguven’s research with the Institute for Successful Longevity found seniors in rural areas face even greater difficulties, such as transportation challenges and a lack of foreign-language speaking staff available.

Eleanor Clark is a recent graduate from Florida State University with degrees in International Affairs and Creative Writing. Before interning at WFSU, she spent time in New York City as the Civic Engagement Coordinator for Columbia University’s high school program. Some of Eleanor’s favorite things are watching the Great British Bake Off, eating soup dumplings, and spending time with her dog, Cooper. Follow her on Twitter: @Nell_Clark_