20 Aug 2014
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How YOU Can be a Master of Disaster For Your Pets

Tips to help you get your pets ready in case disaster strikes.

How YOU Can be a Master of Disaster For Your Pets

Last week, I looked everywhere and called almost everyone trying to find out what plan is in place for my pets in case of emergency. My frustration was that there was no info to be found online...

Thanks to Todd Stosuy of Santa Cruz County Animal Services, I have some answers for you this week. Stosuy assured me there are plans in place, depending on the exact disaster and where it happens. Todd assured me the Animal Services website will be updated with where to look for your animal if it has been evacuated, but not to rely only on that plan.

“Our agency, as with all animal control facilities in California, strongly urge residents to have their own evacuation plan and disaster kit ready,” Stosuy said. “The government cannot rescue and save every single animal in a community. Our residents and their companions can be best served when they are ready.” 

What you can do for your pets to prepare

- You are going to need two rescue plans—one if you are home and one if you are away and cannot get home.

- Put a rescue sticker on your residence (in a VERY visible spot) that tells emergency crews how many pets, what kind, your cell phone number, your vet—if you evacuate your pets, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker. You can get these stickers at most pet supply stores or free from the ASPCA website.

- Make sure your animals have on I.D. tags or are chipped. Constance Chandlee of FOWAS (Friends of Watsonville Animal Shelter) reminded me that when you register your animal’s chip, be sure to include some contact info for friends out of the area, in case your immediate area is completely destroyed. SPCA has free ID tags for use during an emergency. Use a Sharpie to mark livestock and tie tags onto manes with contact info.

- Have a crate or carrier for each pet.

- Have an emergency kit containing 7-10 days of food, a couple gallons of water, medications, copy of medical records, litter/newspapers, blankets, poop bags, a toy, extra collar and leash, dish soap, first aid kit, flashlight, a pillowcase for a fearful cat, and anything else your pet might need. Animals need less water if fed canned food.

- Put a photo of YOU and your PET in the emergency kit—it will be easier to identify your animal in case they are evacuated without you.

- Arrange for a neighbor or friend to have access to your pets to care for or rescue them in case you cannot get home.

- Pre-arrange for you and your pets to have a place to go—a friend, relative, or make a list of hotels that allow pets. When something happens, the SPCA website will list places you can take your pets to board them.

- Contact vets, hotels, friends, relatives that are out of the area in case Santa Cruz County is flattened.

During a Disaster…

- NEVER tie or chain your animals up when left unattended.

- Keep your animals leashed during and after a disaster. They may be a bit disoriented.

- During a fire/storm, bring your animals indoors.

- Separate cats and dogs, even if they normally get along. Stress can make them do funny things.

- Confine your pets to your house, preferably in a room with few windows.

- Leave the toilet lid up so pets can drink.

- If you have to leave, turn off the electricity. Turn off gas if there is a leak.

- Do not leave food, medications or vitamins where pets can get into them.

- In case of flooding, find a place as high in the house as possible for your pets. Remember the floods we had last year in Capitola—it does happen here.

Parting Thoughts…

Pet owners need to contact Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and urge them to make the county’s disaster plans for pets more accessible. FEMA supports including pets in any evacuation plans and encourages local governments to provide co-housing for pets and their people in case of a disaster. Let’s get something like that available locally…shelter for you and your pets together.


After you put together an emergency kit for your pets, make some arrangements with friends or relatives outside the area, then go introduce yourself to your neighbors. Maybe get the neighbors together to discuss how to evacuate all your pets during a crisis—how you can help each other. Discuss where everyone keeps their emergency kits for their pets. At the very least, make (and distribute), a list of all the pets in your immediate neighborhood, so you can tell emergency personnel in case of a house fire. 


Best way to know what’s going on is to be involved. There are a couple of volunteer groups who have helped with evacuations: CAPE, Santa Cruz County Equine Evacuation Team and the SPCA (and they would be a good place to volunteer to help in a disaster, but don’t wait until it strikes in case you need training of some kind). I’ve heard from a friend that they have been using the fairgrounds in Watsonville to house animals during fires—not just horses, but dogs, cats, sheep, etc.

A HUGE thank you to Eva-Marie Tordoff, Patsy at Red Cross and Lisa from SPCA. Thanks also to Jan Novic of CAPE.


Pet Preparedness Toolkit: http://www.ready.gov/america/toolkit_pets/index.html

 The Palo Alto Human Society has great tips for ALL kinds of animals: http://www.paloaltohumane.org/education/disaster.php


Dog Senses Earthquake:


Earthquake Kits for Critters:



Project Purr FREE Spay/Neuter of Feral Cats

Month of September


Did you know that 80 percent of kittens born in the county are feral! You can help! Just trap feral cats (Animal Services has traps you can borrow for free) and Project Purr will pay for the spay/neuter.


Wine & Wags…a fundraiser for the SPCA

Sept. 24, 1-5 p.m.

Poetic Cellars, 5000 N. Rodeo Gulch Rd.

Tickets: $10 for wine tasting and delectable delights for you.

www.santacruzspca.org or 831-465-5000


You and your pooch are invited for an afternoon of wine tasting, munchies, a raffle, plus you can have your portrait taken by Portia Shao of Positive Vista Photography.


An Evening with Ingrid Newkirk, president & co-founder of PETA

Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m.

Hilton Hotel, Scotts Valley

Tickets: $20/$10 http://ingridnewkirk.eventbrite.com 

Newkirk and Kim Sturla, founder and director of Animal Place, will have a lively interview/discussion on current animal issues in the world today, then a Q & A session. Also includes a delicious vegan dessert. Proceeds benefit the many programs at CAPE.


World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater

Oct. 13, 7-10 p.m.

The Rio Theater

1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 


The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre is coming to Santa Cruz, and best of all, it will help raise much needed funds for our only local non-profit no-kill animal shelter—the Santa Cruz SPCA!

This show is too amazing and all the animals are rescued from shelters. Check out a clip on YouTube!

A percentage of the profits from tickets sales made through the link below will be donated to the Santa Cruz SPCA! Please note that ONLY tickets purchased using this link will benefit the animals of the Santa Cruz SPCA.

Adults: $23
Children under 12: $16
Tickets will NOT be sold at the door so get them online while they last!

Party for Paws

Oct. 22, 4-7 p.m.

The Marina Lounge, Fisherman’s Wharf

Monterey, CA

 $30 per person (includes appetizers, live auction, raffle, live music)


Benefits AFRP, FOCAS (Friends of Animal Services), Peace of Mind Dog Rescue and Salinas Animal Services.

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