AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - As Hurricane Florence tears through the Carolinas, many evacuees who are calling Augusta home for the next few days are able to do so with their entire families. Yes, that includes their furry friends. One couple who evacuated from Seabrook Island in South Carolina said they would not have left their animal behind. Roger Bognar said, "Whatever we were going to do, we weren't going to leave him behind. Even if we ended up sleeping in the automobile, and nobody fancied that idea."
Bognar and his wife, Bonnie, said they live about 100 yards away from the coast. When they were ordered to evacuate, Bognar said he had some trouble finding a hotel to accommodate them. He said, "We were very worried, because this was the fourth place I tried." According to the President and CEO of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, this is not uncommon. Bennish Brown said that most of the hotels are full, or have only ten or less rooms available. In addition to being booked, he said, "Out of our 70 or so properties, about half of them are pet friendly, or will allow pets; half will not."
Luckily for Bognar and his wife, they found a local hotel that waived their pet policy for the weekend. Rachel Thomas, Director of Sales at Holiday Inn Augusta, said, "I know that some of them are traveling in and scared that they do not have anything to go back to. If we can at least make the furry animals feel welcome, then we love to do that." Thomas said the entire staff at the Holiday Inn was excited to waive the policy so that evacuees could bring their pets with them. She said they consider pets part of the family, and that's something Bognar and his wife agree with. He said, "We have four children, and we treat our dog almost more lovingly than we did our four children."
After their six hour drive, the Bognars said it could not have turned out better. He said, "It worked out perfectly. This is our third day. We are going to stay tonight, tomorrow, and leave Sunday, God willing." In the meantime, Bognar and his wife plan on visiting downtown with their dog Backer for the Arts in the Heart festival.