Southern California El Nino Preparedness Guide – Pets



We all know that El Nino will affect Southern California soon enough and for that reason it is imperative that preparedness efforts be initiated sooner rather than later while we have ample time to do so. It is true that El Nino preparedness must be designed to help protect our families but what about your pets? Are they not family members or do you consider them to be disposable with no regards to their well being? We know that for some this question is a bit harsh but consider that there are many who see pets as disposable. This can be attributed to economic status as well as cultural in nature. In America most would consider their pets as family members and for many without children, their pets are the children. They will do whatever it takes to protect them.



From disaster to disaster, we clearly see many examples of pet’s left to fend for themselves, abandoned and ultimately many who meet a terrible fate.

One of the most disturbing cases we have heard was about a pit bull who was tied to a chain link fence in New Orleans. The leash being standard with a length of approximately 4 ft was used. The dog was abandoned by an African American family during Hurricane Katrina as streets were being flooded by water which had breached the levy and the dog with no where to go was drowned to death. This was absolutely gut wrenching to say the least and most despicable in our opinion. Unfortunately, that dog was not the first and certainly will not be the last to die because they are thought of as disposable.

This dog drowned because it could not escape its leash tied to a fence.


Unfortunately it is not just dogs and cats that are affected by flooding and severe weather. Horses, cows and other livestock are also affected by drowning, no food or water, abandonment, etc.

Our goal as we present this series of El Nino preparedness is to get people to consider their pets in their emergency plans rather than to neglect or forget about them. Consider that you are their only hope for survival during disasters and the coming El Nino could be one for the books if all projections are correct. Your pets can’t fend for themselves unlike animals in the wild. We do not want to hear tragic stories such as the ones we heard from the Katrina event.

Ok, so what is the first step in pet disaster preparedness?


  • ID your pet
    Make sure that your pets are wearing collars and identification tags that are up to date. You’ll increase your chances of being reunited with pets who get lost by having them microchipped as well; make sure the microchip registration is in your name. But remember: The average citizen who finds your pet won’t be able to scan for a chip, but they will probably be able to read a basic tag!Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—in case you have had to evacuate.
  • Put together your disaster kit
    Please see our previous post by clicking here

  • Find a safe place to stay ahead of time
    Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets.Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a “no pet” policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.Make arrangements with friends or relatives. Ask people outside your immediate area if they would be able to shelter you and your pets—or just your pets—if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to arrange to house them at separate locations.Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (make sure to include their 24-hour telephone numbers).Check with your local animal shelter. Some shelters may be able to provide foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. But keep in mind that shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched during a local emergency.For help identifying pet-friendly lodgings, check out these websites:

  • Plan for your pet in case you’re not home
    In case you’re away during a disaster or evacuation order, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure the person is comfortable with your pets and your pets are familiar with them. Give your emergency caretaker a key to your home and show them where your pets are likely to be (especially if they hide when they’re nervous) and where your disaster supplies are kept.If you have a pet-sitter, they may be able to help. Discuss the possibility well in advance.


Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed. Pledge to take your pet with you when disaster strikes.

Rule number two: Evacuate early. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind. The smell of smoke or the sound of high winds or thunder may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.


If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
  • Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
  • If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
  • Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.


Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

  • Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
  • If your community has been flooded, check your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet. Check out our tips for humanely evicting wildlife.

Disaster plans aren’t only essential for the safety of pets. If you’re responsible for other kinds of animals during natural disasters, disaster plans for feral or outdoor cats, horses and animals on farms can be lifesavers.

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