Arab Veterinary Hospital offers a storm shelter for pets and people

ARAB, Ala. - During times of weather emergencies, there are several facilities that offer shelter for people. But what about their pets? Many pets become a huge part of families. When storms occur and people take cover, they want to protect their pets as well. "Our responsibility is to be good citizens of the community," said Dr. Michael Brown of Arab Veterinary Hospital.

While many storm shelters do not allow pets for a variety of safety concerns, the Arab Veterinary Hospital made it a priority to provide something unique. "We all remember April 27, 2011. Alabama suffered some of the largest numbers or most counts of tornado paths in the United States," said Dr. Brown.

There were many fatalities around North Alabama, including some of the hospital's very own. "Shane Hallmark's family, both his parents and he and his wife and his nephew -- Shane was a part of their organization at one time."

In honor of the Hallmark family, the hospital designed a storm shelter for residents and their pets. They used the facility for the first time in March. "We had about 26 people visit and of the 26 people, it represented with 36 different animals," said Dr. Brown.

The shelter is built to withstand at least a category four storm and hold around 30 people and their pets. "There's running water. There's a functional bathroom so we can let the people and the animals be down there as comfortable as they can be during a storm."

Most animals of the animals can be kept in crates or cages, and anyone is welcomed to take cover until the shelter fills up. This is just one way this hospital says they can give back to their community.