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Gulf & Main Magazine

Safe from the Storm: Sheltering the Shelter Animals

Dec 13, 2022 08:00AM ● By Ann Marie O’Phelan

Assessing the aftermath of the storm and searching for lost pets. Image courtesy of LCDAS.

When Hurricane Ian blew through Southwest Florida on September 28, Lee County Domestic Animal Services - 5600 Banner Dr, Fort Myers, FL, had storm preparations in place. Thanks to advanced planning and the dedication of staff, the report is positive. 

“We were very fortunate in that we only lost power and water for a short period and had some minor loss of trees,” said Karen Fordiani, public information specialist. 

LCDAS contacted the ASPCA ahead of Ian and their rescue partners to make arrangements to transport some of the adoptable pets out of the area. 

“We prepared our building and the remaining pets, and our entire staff was deployed to staff the evacuation shelters,” Fordiani said.  


LCDAS assists with the animal portion of evacuation shelters and continuing to care for the pets remaining at the shelter. 

“Our role at the Emergency Operations Center is to assist the community with any animal-related emergencies and to secure assistance and supplies needed,” Fordiani explained. 

Many pets who were lost during the storm were reunited with their owners—thanks to LCDAS. In addition to an adoption program for dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and more, LCDAS helps pet owners find lost or missing pets, and offers pet licensing, a mobile pet pantry, and limited veterinary services. 

Are you interested in adopting a pet? “Help the LCDAS Ring in the New Year with a new family member!”  says Fordiani. 

All adoption fees will be reduced in the month of January to $25 with an approved application. 

Not ready to adopt? How about fostering or volunteering? Visit to learn more about all the exciting opportunities available, including the annual ‘Flip this Kennel’ competition held on December 10. The competition involves decorating the outside of a dog kennel or cattery with holiday themes. Visitors can come to the shelter and vote for their favorite kennel or cattery or vote on the LCADS’ Facebook page. All pets in a decked-out run will have adoption fees waived that day with an approved application. The adoption package is worth $600, and includes spay or neuter, microchip, up-to-date vaccinations, county license and a 10-day health guarantee.  You can also help the LCDAS by donating supplies or dollars (online) and by volunteering. Find out more

 Ann Marie O’Phelan is a SW Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.