The first pet-friendly emergency shelter in coastal New Hanover County should be available before hurricane season next year.
County commissioners have agreed to allow pets into Noble Middle School during hurricanes or other emergencies, though the animals would be housed separately from their owners.
Officials say some residents don't seek shelter in emergencies because there's no place for their pets.
Almost $16,000 has been donated to purchase cages, kennels and a small trailer, but officials say up to $35,000 could be needed to open the new shelter.
A new federal law requires local governments to consider pets in emergency preparedness planning or risk losing funding.