After Family Is Forced to Leave Animals in Car, Holiday Inn Grants Free Stays to Pets During Disasters

Just two weeks after moving to Georgia to take up a teaching position, my friend Cameron was ordered to evacuate to South Carolina as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the state. Fortunately she was able to take her cat Trouble with her.

However, not all families were lucky enough to find accommodations for their pets during the recent string of hurricanes in the Atlantic.

When escaping the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the Parker family finally found a hotel. But the Holiday Inn Express in Katy, Texas, insisted on maintaining its no pet policy. So the Parkers had no choice but to leave their three dogs in their car during the worst hurricane to ever hit the state. Arrow, Wigum and Buttercup had to spend two frightening nights in the family’s Prius.

In the midst of some amazing displays of heroism and compassion in the face of this monster hurricane, including many heartwarming pet rescues, it seems unbelievable that this hotel could not suspend its no pet policy during such a crisis.

When Care2’s Kelsey Bourgeois heard about the situation, she started a Care2 petition asking the hotel to allow all pets in, while folks made their way to safety in Texas. The petition also asked the Holiday Inn to donate toward hurricane relief.

Response came quickly.

Over 92,000 Care2 activists signed Bourgeois’s petition, expressing outrage. 

As Joanna G. from Vermont wrote, “Pets are members of the family. They must be allowed to live through a storm with us: they are our comfort: we are their comfort. There is nothing more to say. Shameless people to keep the dogs outdoors in a car.”

Thanks to the overwhelming response from Care2 activists, Bourgeois received a message directly from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the parent company of Holiday Inn, assuring her that pets would be allowed in all of its hotels during disasters.

Here’s the official statement from IHG:

“Many of IHG’s brands, including Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, and many individual Holiday Inn Express hotels, already are pet friendly. As IHG hotels continue to shelter individuals and families displaced by Hurricane Harvey, IHG has mandated that all its branded hotels in impacted and surrounding areas welcome pets free of charge during disasters. We have and continue to communicate this requirement to all hotels.”

The hotel chain has since apologized to the Parker family, and also agreed to Bourgeois’s second request to donate money for hurricane relief. 

With this example set in Texas, Bourgeois turned her attention to Florida and created a second petition demanding that two of the biggest hotel chains in the state, Wyndham Hotels and Choice Hotels, allow families seeking shelter to bring pets to their hotels. More than 100,000 people have already signed the petition.

You can add your signature here to make sure that families seeking shelter from all future hurricanes don’t have to worry about whether their pets have a safe place to sleep.

How to Help Hurricane Irma Victims
How to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

If you’re inspired by Bourgeois’s accomplishment, why not create your own Care2 petition about an issue that’s important to you? Start here, and soon you’ll find Care2 members signing up to support you.



Photo Credit: thinkstock


Peggy B
Peggy B4 days ago


Heather B
Heather B5 days ago

sad that it takes public outrage to force an act of compassion. that being said pet owners would do themselves a favor if they saw to it that their dogs were housebroken, socialized and trained. training and socializing and animal is fun for the pet and the people and a well trained dog can overcome much resistance. corporations do't have hearts. They are just about the bottom line. I personally don't stay at hotels that don't permit permits.

Jennifer H
Jennifer H5 days ago

Shame on you HI. I feel in the long run it MAY be better but too little to late for the people and animals you harmed.

Carole R
Carole R6 days ago

I know what hotel I'm staying in for my next vacation.

Jetana A
Jetana A7 days ago

Too late for the animals that suffered during this storm, but good news for those displaced during the inevitable next hurricanes. Great job, Kelsey Bourgeois!

Lynne Buckley
Lynne Buckley7 days ago

Already signed.

Lolli M
Lolli M8 days ago

I am happy to hear that as it the right thing to do.

Arlene C
Arlene C8 days ago

Merci Judy

Leanne K
Leanne K8 days ago

Always afterwards. Why must a petition be started to get people to act compassionately?

Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Great information and advice . Save all animals no matter what Thank you for caring and sharing