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County preps for pets in major emergencies
pet container

In the event of a natural disaster – a fire, flood, or earthquake – what will end up happening to all the pets left behind?

That’s a question that the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office answered this week when they received a shipping container full of supplies to take care of animals that are abandoned because of a declared state of emergency.

The container, which can’t be utilized until an actual state of emergency is declared, was delivered to the sheriff’s office by truck after a grant freed up the cache of resources that could very well end up being the difference between life and death for hundreds of animals that would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. The container itself and all of the contents were received as part of a grant.

The contents of the shipping container include items such as:

*52 36-inch cages to be set-up apart from the shipping container

*72 42-inch cages to be set-up apart from the shipping container

*24 48-inch cages to be set-up apart from the shipping container

*1,900 disposable bowls for animal food and water

*75 pounds of kitty litter

*384 leashes

*2,000 disposable kitty litter pans

*1,000 dog and cat ID bands and 58 horse neck ID bands

*1,000 zip ties and other ancillary supplies

Thousands of animals flooded shelters in Butte County after the Camp Fire destroyed thousands of homes in 2018 – overwhelming facilities and stressing resources that were already thin due to space and budgetary constraints. Hundreds of those animals went unclaimed by owners.

While the likelihood of such a fire occurring in the Northern San Joaquin Valley is extremely rare, the possibility of a flood was very real for residents in 2017 when a levee in South Manteca broke and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homeowners in South Manteca – including residents in newly developed homes South of the Highway 120 Bypass. While the levee breach was ultimately secured by quick-thinking farmers who used ranch equipment to keep the fracture from spreading before work crews could fully patch the fracture, the threat of flood persisted for almost two weeks as crews retrofitted aging sections of the vulnerable levee.

Several farmers in South Manteca built berms surrounding their properties at that time to protect homes and animals, and others were prepared to evacuate those animals if necessary. While California technically has an animal emergency care plan that was approved as part of an initiative in 2006, it has not been widely implemented as of now and the job of moving animals in an emergency is left in the hands of property owners and volunteer groups.

The County of San Joaquin provides emergency management services in the event of a declared emergency, and San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputies provided roadblocks and routine patrols in rural areas in 2017 when evacuations forced homeowners to leave.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.