PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Animal advocates are pushing back against a viral social media post that suggests pets are welcome at all shelters during an evacuation. 

The post states that a federal law passed following Hurricane Katrina requires all shelters to accommodate pets in the case of an evacuation. 

However, FEMA itself has responded to the claim, saying it’s simply a rumor. 

There are reports that hotels and motels participating in the Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program are legally required to accommodate pets. This is FALSE. (September 8)

Hotels and motels participating in FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program do not fall under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)). Please call the hotel before you go and ask if pets are permitted.

Hotels must accept service animals and individuals with access and functional needs should check with the hotel to ensure if accessible lodging accommodations are available to meet their needs.

To find a pet friendly hotel you can log onto Pets Welcome’s website and search for one. We also have tips for preparing your pet for a hurricane in our hurricane ready guide. 

The following shelters have announced they will accept pets: 

CHESAPEAKE: A pet shelter will be opened; however, owners will not be permitted to remain with their pets. Care will be provided, as will crates/cages. Owners need to bring food, bedding, and a comfort item. It is not necessary to bring shot records, but owners will be required to sign a waiver before the pet will be admitted.

DARE COUNTY: All residents must show a valid ID with a Dare County address for entry. While in the shelter, owners are responsible for the feeding, care, clean-up, and behavior of their pets. Knightdale High School (100 Bryan Chalk Lane) Opening Tuesday at 2 p.m.

GLOUCESTER: Domestic pets, accompanied by their owners, will be allowed at the shelter as long as space is available. Please bring pet kennel/crate, food, bowls, bedding, litter, and rabies vaccination record. Peasley Middle School (Corner of Ark Road & Hickory Fork Road) Opening Thursday morning at 6 a.m.

HAMPTON: Bethel High School (1067 Big Bethel Road) Opening Tuesday at 11 a.m.

NEWPORT NEWS: Owners must remain at the shelter with their pets (no drop-offs). Animals must be in cages. Owners will be required to care for their pets while staying at the shelter and provide all food, water and medicines. Warwick High School  (51 Copeland Lane) Opening Wednesday at 12 p.m.

NORFOLK:  Owners are responsible for taking care of their own pets, including providing food and medications, feeding, and walking their animals. Bayview Recreation Center (8613 Willow Terrace) and Berkley Community Center (121 W Liberty St) will open at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

PORTSMOUTH: Churchland Middle School (4051 River Shore Road) opens Wednesday at 1 p.m.

SUFFOLK: Nansemond River High School (3301 Nansemond Pkwy) Opening Wednesday at 8 p.m.

VIRGINIA BEACH: Owners will be required to sign liability waiver upon entry, show picture ID with proof of address to utilize shelter. Cats must arrive in a carrier/enclosure and dogs must be securely on a leash. Dog crates and appropriate cat housing will be available on-site.  Aggressive animals and those with known medical issues above the capabilities of the emergency shelter will not be accepted. Animals with known contagious diseases will also not be accepted. Landstown Elementary School (2212 Recreation Drive) will accept pets 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday & Friday. (Space is limited). Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center (341 S. Birdneck Road) For Zone A evacuees only to open 9 a.m.-6 a.m. Wednesday. (Space is limited)

YORK: Pets will be kept in crates in another part of the facility away from their owners. Pet owners will be permitted to visit and tend to their pet’s needs. 4431 Big Bethel Road (4431 Big Bethel Road) Opening Wednesday at 2 p.m.

All pet-friendly shelters require vaccination records for each pet.