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Hotels Urged To Relax Pet Policies Ahead Of Dorian

Dog in a cage being evacuated ahead of Hurricane Gustav in Aug. 2008.
A dog evacuating Beaumont, TX, with its owners ahead of Hurricane Gustav in Aug. 2008. Hotels are being urged to relax their pet policies ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has urged hotels to relax their pet policies for people who are fleeing Hurricane Dorian.

“Many people are reluctant to leave unless they can bring their pets with them,” Carol Dover, CEO/President of the FRLA, said in a press release. “We hope that relaxed restrictions and pet-friendly accommodations will help motivate those in the path of the storm to heed evacuation warnings.”

Tourists visiting Florida for Labor Day might have to reschedule their travel plans, but the Association is encouraging hotels to waive cancellation fees amid the threat of the storm.

“We certainly want visitors to come to the state, but we want them to stay safe,” said FRLA press secretary Amanda Handley. “Safety is always our first priority in the hospitality industry and relaxing a cancellation policy is a good way to keep people safe and make people feel like it's okay that they don't come.”

If you are planning to travel in or out of Florida during the holiday weekend, Handley recommends getting in contact with the airlines or cruise lines to learn more about their cancellation policies.

WEATHER: Storm track, hourly outlooks, 7-day forecasts and weather alerts

Polk County, which usually attracts many tourists, is popular among Florida residents as they prepare an evacuation plan.

Jack Cormier, Communications Specialist for Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, explained why.

“Polk County is geographically smack dab in the middle of the state and is basically landlocked,” said Cormier. “Coming from either the east or the west, we won’t have quite as powerful of a storm by the time it comes to Polk.”

Because of this, the county is able to accommodate residents who can’t immediately return home after the storm.

“During Irma, we had some folks here for four months after the storm,” said Cormier. “We welcome them and try to make everything as comfortable as possible.”

Since hurricanes lose steam by the time they reach Polk, the county is also able to rebound quickly in the aftermath of a storm.

Erin O’Brien is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2019.
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