Can I take my Shih Tzu to the hurricane shelter?


The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season started last week, marking that time of year when tropical cyclones are likely to form in the North Atlantic Ocean, coastal residents are likely to stock up on storm supplies, and the words “eye wall” are likely to have nothing to do with vision or illegal immigration.

As a full-service local news columnist and long-time South Florida resident, I am here to answer questions:

Q: If this is the beginning of the hurricane season, why have we already had a Hurricane Alex and a Tropical Storm Bonnie this year?

A: Like turkey bacon, the concept of a “hurricane season” is an artificial construct. We establish some boundaries of time, and expect that Mother Nature will conform to our timetable. It doesn’t always work.

We try to impose that same order on snowbirds.

We have an established “snowbird season,” which is supposed to begin in November and end in April. But some of them show up in October and don’t leave until May. Nothing you can do about it.

Q: Do those early storms have something to do with climate change?

A: We live in Florida, where the words “climate change” have been scrubbed from our official vocabulary. You are free, however, to think of this phenomenon as part of Florida’s Inland Waterfront Initiative.

Q: I’ve got flashlights, bottled water, a few hundred dollars in cash and plywood for the windows. I thought I was well-prepared until I learned that one of my neighbors has a 60-day supply of freeze-dried food, a bag of gold coins buried in his back yard, a shotgun, and two cords of firewood.

Am I not prepared enough for a storm?

A: I think I know the problem here. You’re simply mistaken.

Your neighbor isn’t preparing for a hurricane, he’s preparing for the presidential election in November.

Q: Can I take my emotional support Shih Tzu to one of the county’s hurricane shelters?

A: The shelters don’t allow smoking, alcohol or pets. Service dogs are an exception. But your emotional support animal is not a service dog, it’s a pet. There’s a difference.

A service dog actually works for you. Your Shih Tzu is unemployed — no matter what the $60 vest you bought on Amazon.com says — and the services the dog supplies you are purely imaginary.

Important, but imaginary. All dogs are emotional support animals. Hooray for dogs.

But if that’s all it takes to get into a shelter, there wouldn’t be any room for your emotionally stable human neighbors.

Don’t despair. There’s some good news for you: If you live in a mobile home park or an evacuation zone, there are pet-friendly shelters available.

Some even allow “pocket pets” (try not to imagine what that might include).

No livestock or reptiles allowed.

A tough break for those with emotional support goats and iguanas.

Q: Driving after a storm when all the electric power has been knocked out can be harrowing. Especially at busy four-way traffic intersections. Do you have any advice?

A: Yes, buy yourself a set of New York state license plates, then put them on your car after the storm passes.

It’s the next best thing to driving an emergency vehicle.

You'll discover that wherever you go, the Florida drivers around you will assume, for their own safety, that it’s always your turn to go.

Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.

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