Kids & Pets
July 9, 2020
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Fires, floods, mudslides oh my!

By: Mickey Zeldes
March 8, 2019

Between fires, floods and mudslides it seems like we have been continuously in disaster mode around here.  Hopefully by now everyone is prepared with what they need in case of a local disaster.  We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past couple of years, that’s for sure.

During the height of the recent floods, one of our staff had to be rescued and boated out of his rental house.  Good employee that he is, all he grabbed was some clothes and the crate of foster kittens he had at home.  Fortunately, since his bedroom was on the second floor, chances are his personal items will not be damaged.  Whether or not the house will be inhabitable with the moisture and possible mold issues is still unknown.  It will be a major clean-up at the least.  To add insult to injury, just before he was evacuated he got skunked!  A skunk had sought refuge on the porch and when the employee stepped outside and startled him, he got an unwanted present.  A lot to cope with in one day!

We all really need to have two disaster plans.  One is if there is an earthquake or flood and you are locked in place for a few days.  Everyone should have stashed (in a waterproof kit of some kind) enough water and food and other basic necessities for each person, and pet, in your home to survive for at least three days.  Authorities figure in a major disaster you should be prepared to take care of yourself for up to five days before rescue could happen.  That means a basic first aid kit, a change of clothes, a blanket, flashlight and perhaps a battery-powered radio. There are workshops and classes you can take that help you learn what to do in an emergency. You can look up lists of suggested items to include in your kit, and classes offered, on the Red Cross website and other disaster agencies sites.  

The second plan you should have is what would you grab if you had just a few minutes to pack and evacuate.  Do you know where your pet’s crate is?  Your dog’s leash?  Realize that outside of your immediate area life is going on as usual and stores are not affected so there’s no need to grab toiletries or food.  Instead what you may want to save are things of personal sentiment and value.  After getting people and animals out, probably the next things would be photo albums and the computer (forget the monitor).  Maybe some heirloom jewelry or artwork (if you had time to pack a car).  What would you want saved?  Make sure everyone knows so that it’s more likely to get grabbed.

The funniest picture from the fires last year, I thought, was the car packed with toilet paper and food.  The house burned and everything was lost but thank goodness they got the TP out!  Now in an earthquake, that is the lady I want to know!  She was well supplied.  There is still more rain predicted so we may not be out of the woods yet, and after that you may have to worry about the stability of the ground, especially if your home backs up to any kind of hill.  Mudslides are often an issue and even more so in burn areas since there is nothing to hold the soil in place.  

Point being, if you haven’t prepared your emergency plan and kit yet – do it, now!  With one disaster after another we should be the best prepared people around.  There’s no excuse for being caught unaware.  And, of course, make sure your pets are included in both your plans!

Upcoming Events

3rd Annual Sonoma County Bunfest! – Sat., March 30, 11-3 p.m., at the RP Community Center.  Free admission gets you great speakers about bunny care and health, adorable rabbits to meet, rabbit supplies and toys for sale, raffle items and more.  New this year – a family activity center!  Details available at

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.

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