Demand American Red Cross House Animals During Disasters

Target: Gail J McGovern, CEO of The American Red Cross

Goal: Require that the American Red Cross house all animals arriving with families during natural disasters.

When disaster strikes, many families are left with a tough decision: travel to the safety of a Red Cross shelter without their beloved nonhuman family member or stay together without any aid. Family (nonservice) pets aren’t allowed in Red Cross Shelters due to state regulations. Families wanting to stay with their pets are required to find hotels, motels or other family members that can offer them shelter. Leaving these families to find shelter for their pets during a disaster is unacceptable and something that needs to be remedied.

Thousands of pets are left stranded during disasters, due to a lack of an animal-friendly emergency evacuation plan. By the time that rescue teams can get into areas where pets are stranded, many animals have already died. Families are left with guilt and anger after being forced to choose to leave their pets in order to get to shelter. Many people are required to leave their pets even if they refuse initial rescue efforts.

Imagine leaving your dog or cat on your front porch while water floods your streets and all you can do is hope that they survive long enough to be rescued. Many pets are stranded in their family homes with no food and no water for days before they’re rescued. Others become lost after running away or are swept away in floods, avalanches or landslides.

The American Red Cross shelters, due to state safety regulations, aren’t allowed to house nonservice animals. Rather than just offering suggestions on where to house a pet during a disaster, the American Red Cross should have an additional pet-friendly building or should partner with another business or organization to offer safe housing. Currently, there are only guidelines and suggestions for families with pets but there is no actual support. About half of the American population owns a dog or a cat, which means that there are many families struggling to keep their pets safe. Sign the petition below to ask the Red Cross to find a solution for families with pets who need to evacuate their homes.


Dear Gail J McGovern,

Each year when disaster strikes, thousands of family pets are left to fend for themselves. The American Red Cross offers no shelter to nonservice pets during disasters, leaving families to make the hard choice of leaving their beloved pets behind. In some cases, people aren’t given a choice of whether or not to stay with their pets. With roughly half the American population owning cats or dogs, it is unacceptable that there is no shelter capable of housing families with pets.

If the American Red Cross cannot house families with pets, then it must partner with other businesses or organizations to offer safe housing. Providing families with suggestions on where to go isn’t enough. When disaster strikes, people want to get to safety with all of their family members. They shouldn’t be split up because some family members have fur while others don’t.

By the time many rescue efforts finally reach an abandoned pet, it is too late. Many pets are left without food or water or are left with no means of escape.

The American Red Cross is an organization that people look to in times of disaster. Please don’t turn your backs on those who choose to share their lives with animals. Give families some peace of mind in times of crisis by offering them shelters where they can bring their pets.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alec Perkins

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  1. Kathryn Irby says:

    Please House the animals of flood victims, given the fact that these animals are victims too!!

  2. It is horrible for people in a disaster situation to be forced by their rescuers to leave their animals behind. This problem should be rectified immediately.

  3. Barton Dixon says:

    These animals are often the only touch these people have left that matters to their lives. Please look out for them, for both the animals and those that love and need them.

  4. Its time that America became civilized.Give me animals to their human counterparts any day!

  5. must save the pets now in disasters .

  6. All these pets are peoples family,and they need to be saved too!

  7. Elizabeth Rose says:

    More states ARE starting to deal with this. LA requires adjacent animal shelters next to human shelters, for example, because the number of people who died during Katrina is estimated to have almost doubled due to people refusing to leave animal companions, and the dead animal carcasses in the aftermath were both tragic and a public health crisis.
    During the 2009 floods in ND/MN, every human shelter had an adjacent shelter for four-legged family members, because of the tragedies that occurred during the 97 floods.
    Still, as we deal with more extreme weather and a warming climate, the Red Cross could set the example and be universally proactive.

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