Red Cross shelters in North Bay are people AND pet friendly

This is the first of a series of stories we will be posting related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:


The Red Cross and community shelters have been people- and pet-friendly, as Debbie Chiurco and “Shorty” happily discovered. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.

Debbie Chiurco, a resident of the Sonoma County city of Sebastopol, had never been through an evacuation before. But her status suddenly changed when she received a leave-now order on her cell phone at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The emergency notification was soon followed up by police sirens and the knocking of caring neighbors, all reaching out to convey the same thing: The high winds that were forecast in Northern California would put Debbie at risk from the Kincade Fire; she should leave now!

With her dog and cat accompanying her, Debbie made it to a shelter the Red Cross is helping operate at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. “I just followed the cars here,” she said.

Debbie didn’t grab much on her way out the door: her phone, a purse, and supplies for the two pets that would accompany her.

While her cat remained safely inside a carrier in her car, Debbie’s dog, “Shorty,” accompanied her as she walked around the shelter site, numb from her circumstances and the cold of Sunday morning.

But Debbie spoke warmly of the Red Cross and county volunteers at the shelter. “Everyone has been so nice to try and accommodate all of the people who have left their homes,” Debbie said, as she and Shorty bundled up inside a Red Cross blanket that was provided to her upon her arrival.


Related links: