Animals play an integral role in society.  In many homes, pets are considered to be  members of the family.  Working animals provide valuable services to the community and production livestock contribute millions to the economy.  It is no wonder then, that when disaster strikes, citizens are intensely concerned about their animals.  Numerous studies have shown that people are reluctant to evacuate during a disaster without their animals.  Images like the one here, of “Rodeo”, a Border Collie stranded on a roof in the 1997 Yuba floods, make a lasting impression and cause the community to ask, “What is being done for animals during disasters?”  To answer, the State of California has created the California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES) through the joint efforts of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

California is home to nearly 19 million domestic animals.  Polls conducted in 2012 estimate that California is home to 6.7 million dogs and 7.1 million cats.  The California Department of Food and Agriculture reported in 2012 that there are over 5.5 million cattle in California, 570,000 sheep, 141,000 goats, 670,000 horses, just over 100,000 hogs, and millions of chickens in the Golden State.  Approximately one out of every three households in California owns a dog or a cat.

The California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES) is an operational guidance to assist with all aspects of animal care and control in the event of a disaster or emergency.  In addition, CARES provides resources for the public, for animal businesses, for shelters, and for emergency planners.  CARES is structured in accordance with the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS).  Learn more about CARES here.