American Red Cross Must 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. Cynthia Mattera says:

    Pets ARE FAMILY and the Red Cross makes it impossible for people to bring their pets along to safety. This is very wrong!!!! Please change your ways and allow family members to save their pets!

  2. Carolyn Taylor says:

    Pets are family! We have an obligation to protect living beings that cannot help themselves. The countless precious pets that were left behind during Katrina to suffer and die and/or be cruelly gunned down by those who swear to protect and serve did not deserve their terrible fate! These atrocities against innocent and defenseless animals will forever remain a stain on the human race and I am ashamed. No animals must be left behind!

  3. Ana Emmerson says:

    As great as this would be, people have to stop and think before making such demands. Stop and think about the possible issues that may arrise when you have a facility full of animals that may not get along with other animals. Think of safety issues and the sanitation issues, the stadium in New Orleans was a disaster without animals. We need to stop this “demanding” attitudes and come together to find real solutions. Think about the funding involved, where do you think the Red Cross gets the money from?
    Why not come up with a way to help the Red Cross? Why not figure out how to raise money to build shelters where animals can safely go in times of emergency? so many people want yet only a few are willing to give and help.
    I have five dogs and had a tire. Red Cross was the first out to help me. They didn’t have a place for me and my dogs, and I chose not to leave my dog behind but the Red Cross still helped me in other ways.

  4. Jakub Szafran says:

    For a family who lost their home in a disaster their pet IS IN SERVICE. Ever heard of dog therapy? Felinotherapy? Or maybe it’s better to make them leave the pet and pay tax-money to a therapist to help them cope with TWO traumas at once..?
    Damn it:/

  5. There has to be a way to make this work. It not the animals doing that they don’t have someone to look after them.

  6. I refuse to support the Red Cross until they start helping animals

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