Holiday Inn refuses family fleeing from Houston flood with their 3 dogs

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A Houston family were outraged after a Holiday Inn refused to let their three rescue dogs sleep in their hotel room as they fled from their New Territory home on Sunday night while seeking refuge from Hurricane Harvey’s rising tidewaters. Gillian and Phillip Parker, their teenage daughter, the family’s 81-year-old grandmother and their three rescue dogs, left their home after a mandatory evacuation was ordered. 

For hours the family drove around until they found the Holiday Inn Express in Katy, Texas – finally a place to stay, but the staff at the hotel told them they were not allowed to take their  dogs into the room. Now picture this – pouring rain and nowhere to go; their dogs, Arrow, a shepherd and Lab mix, Wiggum, a Lab and hound mix, and Buttercup, a yellow Lab spent two nights in the family’s Toyota Prius.

“It’s ridiculous and outrageous,’ Gillian, 47, told PEOPLE.  “This is an 800-year flood. Three exits down the highway, the national guard is pulling people out of their houses. And our dogs can’t come in to safety?”

Gillian and Phillip took turns spending the nights in their car with the dogs and walking them in the rain. When asked why they just didn’t sneak the dogs into their room, the family stated they just obey rules and didn’t want to chance getting kicked out of the hotel. 

Holiday Inn General Manager Jim Hernandez explained his hotel was not pet friendly, but did offer guest a local area where pets could be kenneled. The Parkers said the facility was closed. And for two nights, the family cared for themselves and their dogs until the TownePlaceSuites by Marriott offered them – accompanied by their dogs a place to stay.

Ironically, or maybe sadly to report, the Holiday Inn finally agreed to let the dogs into the room in exchange for a positive review and pet deposit according to the family.

Corporate owners of Holiday Inn Express have since apologized to the family for their experience and in a statement to PEOPLE:

“We are working to understand what occurred in this instance, and are communicating to our franchisees in the impacted areas to do all they can to accommodate pets,” the statement read. “As the region continues to feel impacts from the storm, we are highly sensitive to the needs of those affected during this extremely difficult time and are working diligently to best accommodate guests and their needs, and comfort those seeking relief at IHG hotels.”

The company has offered to waive the fees and provide them with bonus points for future stays. In response, the Parkers stated they would prefer the company to make a donation to disaster relief efforts and  the Fort Bend County Animal Services — from where the two dogs were adopted. Donations can be made through Amazon Smile.

(Photos via Facebook and Twitter)

Follow the National Pet Rescue.


11 replies
  1. Adrienne says:

    I would have said and done the same thing as this family. Finally finding a place and then to be told they can’t bring in their dogs? So they bark or soil the carpet, who cares. No amount of offers would allow and would never use them. The manager should have thought outside the box and think possibly this family lost everything they had except what was with them? Think what is most important Holiday Inn, lives or your “pristine” rooms.

  2. Linda Szymoniak says:

    This is one of those times the hotel really needed to throw their rule book out the window. Red Roof Inn and Motel 6 are two chains that allow dogs. Hopefully this family won’t ever stay at another Holiday Inn – even if they are on vacation and not fleeing for their lives. Shame on this hotel.

  3. Barkley's Mom says:

    Lets hear if for the Holiday Inn Express in Katy, Texas, In a families hour of need they showed true “compassion”! They should be ashamed in a tragedy like this they couldn’t bend their rules for a homeless family and their pets!

    • linda says:

      Exactly! They could have bent the rules. I get they’re not pet friendly, but, seriously considering under these conditions these people needed a place to stay with their pets. This was inexcusable.

  4. Nancy Raymond says:

    The employee who made the cruel decision to deny a family’s pets a place to stay definitely needs a new job – and I applaud this family for truly caring about the dogs that they stayed in the car with them – Holiday Inn is now backpedaling and trying to make amends for an employee whose lack of compassion shows they are not fit for a position in hospitality – they showed none, especially in a desperate time of need.

  5. Cynthia Como says:

    WTF!!!!!!! In normal circumstances u can choose to not be a dog friendly motel, BUT WHEN THERE IS A DEVASTATING DISASTER GOING ON U WOULD THINK THIS COMPANY WOULD DO WHATS HUMANE,COMPASSIONATE,AND BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEIR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS! I find what the Holiday Express did appalling and so unacceptable! SHAME ON THEM! I’m quite please that this family’s disgusting misteatment is being reported by People magazine and all of America will now know of their dispicable behavior! SMH


    Unbelievable! Holiday Inn needs to be ashamed of themselves! In times of crisis, you need to be as compassionate as you can and accommodate people and pets and screw your rules! This is not the time to obey policy, but tather do the right thing!


    Unbelievable! Holiday Inn needs to be ashamed of themselves! In times of crisis, you need to be as compassionate as you can and accommodate people and pets and screw your rules! This is not the time to obey policy, but rather do the right thing!

  8. maxiemom says:

    Unbelievable! All hell breaking loose, a family’s escaping an once in 800 year disaster, and a Holiday Inn (had to be the manager) employee decided that POLICY was more important than HUMAN DECENCY!!!! That idiot definitely needs a new job, NOT retraining, and should never, ever be allowed to work in any kind of service industry again! How do people like that even sleep at night, much less live with themselves on a day to day basis?

    I’m glad the family took turns staying with their dogs, who had to have been terrified by what was happening and what had already happened. Too bad that a*****e running the Holiday Inn didn’t have enough compassion for others to even take THAT into account instead of showing everyone in this country what a heartless piece of trash he is.

  9. Tracy Whitcomb says:

    They should be ashamed of themselves for this outrage!!!! This is HORRIBLE!!!! I cannot believe that they made those poor dogs stay outside. This needs to be investigated and they need to rectify this problem.

  10. susispot says:

    I would say, BOYCOTT HOLIDAY INN. This family took the high road and ask a donation be made to the shelter they adopted their dogs from. Now that is a class act.


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