As soon as the fire broke out in Santa Rosa and the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was set-up, animal services were also activated. I received a call at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning to open our facility for evacuees to drop off their animals for emergency board and we took in almost 70 animals the first day. The county shelter, just off Airport Boulevard was very close to being evacuated but fortunately they didn’t have to go through that.
As the week went by we got more organized. First, we arranged to have all our available animals transferred to shelters out of the area. Not only to make room for the evacuees but also to give them a chance to be adopted since, quite realistically, no one locally was thinking of adoption during this crisis!
The Sonoma County Animal Services have been getting over 200 calls a day for assistance since the fire, which is a dramatic increase. They put out a call for assistance and had officers from Marin, San Francisco, Alameda and elsewhere respond. And Rohnert Park! I spent a day as an officer helping them out and it was a memorable experience. I am super impressed by the County Animal Services and want to share with you what my day was like – note that this was during the fire and there were still evacuated areas.
My first call sent me up the Fountaingrove area to pick up a cat that somehow survived the fire. Two men had been allowed in to search the rubble of their home and noticed a cat had come out of the storm drain and was under their car. Smart cat. I’m guessing many may have been able to survive by going underground! I was able to coax him (or her, didn’t really look!) out with some tasty canned food and secured him in a carrier to take back to the shelter. But first I had another call in the same area. Someone had called in sighting two cats by an address at the top of a hill. I couldn’t find any signs of life but left some food out, just in case.
With all the evacuations, some people had left their pets in their homes or had livestock that needed to be checked on. Dozens of people brought keys to their homes to the shelter and asked that an officer go in and feed the animals left behind. I got the key to one home and went to feed the cat inside and put out food for another that was outdoors. The home was intact but only a block away from the fire line and although some people were back in their homes apparently, this person wasn’t allowed in yet. It was a bit eerie to go into someone’s home and care for their pets – but I guess it’s what pet sitters do all the time. A sweet kitty greeted me and gobbled up the wet food while I replenished her water. Another job completed. Question for you – do you have a neighbor that has a key to your house in case you ever needed someone close by to check in on your pets?
Next I was sent to an address in the Coffey Park area to check on a Koi pond. Seriously! A neighbor had called in concerned that a burned-out home had a Koi pond in the yard and wondered if we would check on it. I jokingly asked the dispatcher “do you have Koi food for me to take?” And the answer was “yes!” No animal was considered unimportant. They sent officers out with hay for goats, chicken feed for hens kept in yards and bird food for pet birds – I was seriously impressed. Fortunately, when I arrived at the address another neighbor came out and told me that the owner had been coming daily to look for their missing cat and care for the fish.
I handled a few other calls but they weren’t fire related. Some cat traps needed to be dropped off at a foreclosed home, a Santa Rosa stray dog needed to be transferred from the Humane Society to the county shelter and an injured stray cat that was under someone’s deck steps in Sebastopol needed to be rescued. All routine calls for an Animal Services Officer!
Bark After Dark – Postponed until March 3. Mark the date on your calendar!
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati City. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed. 1-6:30 p.m., Thurs.-Fri-Sat 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.