One thing that many people worry about when they need to evacuate is whether they can bring along their four legged family – it is not safe for your pet to leave them behind when you evacuate.
The Red Cross works with local partners, both government and non-government, to allow companion animals in shelters, encouraging people in coastal areas to evacuate their homes and move to safer locations.
“What we have found is that people are less likely to evacuate if they cannot bring their family pets,” said Barry Porter, Chief Executive for the American Red Cross of central and eastern North Carolina.
“We’ve developed a number of ways to help families do that, but the best way to keep your pet safe is to be responsible. Owners should create a disaster kit for their pets that include carriers or crates, food, leashes, treats and toys, medications and anything else your pet may need for several days.”
When the Red Cross and our partners sheltered hundreds of people in eastern North Carolina in the hours before
Hurricane Arthur, and through the most harrowing hours of the hurricane, many of those shelters were places where
families could feel safe from the storm with the family pet in tow. There is a bonus to creating pet friendly shelters -
other shelter residents as well as Red Cross staff have the pleasure of the calming presence of companion animals.
Charlotte Rodriguez is a volunteer who spent the night in a pet friendly Red Cross shelter in Onslow County North
Carolina on Thursday night as the storm made landfall.
“The staff loves greeting the puppies, kittens and dogs. Onslow County is integral to our being able to manage an animal population. All in all, I think having pets here is a positive thing for our shelter community,” Rodriguez said.
The Jacksonville Commons shelter took on a slightly different role when a lost puppy, nicknamed Arthur, of course,
was found wondering in the storm and delivered to the shelter. With Jackie Sickle and Rachel Collins from Onslow
County Animal Services on hand, the team was able to provide a safe place for Arthur to ride out the storm, and
arrange for his care until his owner can be located.
Making shelters safe for people and pets is critical in an evacuation, because it helps move people out of harm’s
way, and there are few more harmful things than a hurricane.
In response to Hurricane Arthur the Red Cross has:
• Provided more than 260 overnight stays in shelters
• Served nearly 2,200 meals and snacks
• Distributed over 500 relief kits and supplies
• Mobilized dozens of staff and 6 Emergency Response vehicles