How to help when severe cold weather forces Philadelphia into ‘Code Blue’


All it takes is just to speak up. Whether it's a homeless person in the area, or an animal you see being left out in the cold day and night...the weather is getting colder and colder, and just last month the Philadelphia area went into a Code Blue. And every winter like clockwork, animal protection organizations receive calls about desparte, howling, suffering dogs who are left outside of homes day and night. Cruelty to animals has no home anywhere, so please please please speak up and reach out. Below is information on how you can help the homeless, and also report animal neglect. It's just too cold.

Code Blue Homeless People:

If you see a person who appears to be homeless during a Code Blue, call the City’s Homeless outreach hotline at (215) 232-1984.

A Code Blue is enacted during extremely cold conditions, when temperatures feel near or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. During a Code Blue, the City takes special measures to keep people who are homeless safe. These measures include:

  • 24-hour outreach to find people who are homeless and transport them to safe indoor spaces.
  • Opening all available beds within the emergency housing network to people who are homeless.
  • Allowing homeless people to stay inside emergency housing throughout the day.

Code Blue Homeless/Neglected Dogs:

Report a Violation

If you would like to report a dog left outdoors in severe weather call 267-385-3800 and dial 1 to speak with the dispatcher or file a report online here with all the details you have available.

Philadelphia residents must provide indoor shelter for their dogs during periods where Philadelphia declares a Code Blue or Code Grey advisory for extreme cold weather. Designed to preserve the lives of chronically homeless individuals, a Code Grey is declared when the National Weather Bureau predicts high winds and/or heavy rains or frozen precipitation with temperatures above 32 degrees. Code Blue emergency is declared when the temperature, wind chill and precipitation combined together result in real-feel temperatures near or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Codes Grey and Blue are in effect when declared by the City of Philadelphia.

ACCT Philly urges residents who keep dogs outdoors some or all of the time to take action now, before a Code Grey or Blue advisory is declared. Steps to take include:

  • Acclimating your dog to spend most of his or her time indoors.
  • Ensuring any housing provided for your dog is in good repair, moisture-proof, windproof and has a raised floor at least two inches from the ground.
  • Supply plenty of clean bedding material of stray, hay or cedar shavings.
  • Add a heated water bowl – dogs can’t drink ice!

Philadelphia residents who need help or advice to improve housing for their dogs are urged to contact ACCT Philly at fieldservices@acctphilly.org for assistance.