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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Caring for pets in a Red Cross shelter

Updated: Jul 3

By Janet Flanagan and Peter Teahen

Red Cross Pet Liaison Melissa McGill knows that if disaster strikes, it isn’t just people who need help, but pets also need shelter, food and other supplies.

Photo: Red Cross Pet Liaison Melissa McGill with Red Cross staff member Alyssa Pollock and Alyssa’s dog, Wesley.

When people impacted by disaster need support, the Red Cross helps their furry friends as well by supplying pet food, collars, kitty litter and safe shelter crates.

In response to flooding in Northwest Iowa, McGill connected with a local pet grooming and spa to obtain crates to use in areas affected by the flooding. McGill was also able to secure 30 large bags of dog and cat food.

Pets are part of the sheltering operations for the Red Cross. Pet liaisons like McGill help to make sure pets are cared for and in a safe environment.

The Red Cross knows that many people will remain in danger rather than leave their animals. The pet liaison role was created to help people displaced by a disaster feel welcome seeking shelter, knowing that the Red Cross will provide a safe refuge for both them and their household pets. Liaisons work with owners, emergency service personnel, local animal shelters and others to coordinate food and supply drop-offs for the animals.

“If we run across anyone that has a need, if we can’t get it donated, we go buy it,” says McGill.

In the face of disaster, it’s reassuring that McGill and others like her at the Red Cross work to create a stable environment for pets and their owners alike.


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