Animal shelter packed due to flood damage

Despite a break between storms, the local pet shelter is overflowing with animals displaced by flooding.

Recent rainfall brought chaos to the region in previous weeks, causing San Benito County to declare a local emergency due to flooding in the Lovers Lane area. Not long after, Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency for the county on Jan. 23.

Rain is expected to start Wednesday night as another storm system moves through the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Hollister Animal Control Supervisor Julie Carreiro said her department received calls about animals in flood waters during the recent storms. Animals of all sorts were affected by the flooding, including dogs, cats, sheep, goats, horses and cattle.

“(During the first storm) a lot of people got their horses out,” Carreiro said. “During the second storm we got more dogs and cats, one pig, chickens, goats and sheep. During the last storm, we evacuated more.”

Carreiro said her staff worked nonstop during the storms. At one point, she was out at the flood region for 16 hours.

Local resident Deanna Barth said she helped pass information between the animal shelter and pet owners. Barth has over 20 years of experience in animal rescue and veterinary medicine.

“Most of my help with the animal evacuations was acting as a liaison between the shelter and pet owners,” Barth said.

Important information went out on the Hollister Animal Lost and Found (HALF) Facebook page, Barth said.

Carreiro said there’s about 80 rescued animals currently at the shelter, as well as around 30 at the fairgrounds. People still can’t take the animals home because some of those properties were destroyed.

With more rain on the horizon, Carreiro shared some tips to keep pets safe.

“Make sure that people check their fences, check their gates,” she said. “If you’re next to creeks or areas that are known to flood, be ready to get your animals out. Make sure they have dry ground to get onto. If you have livestock, make sure they can have some protection from the elements.”

Barth said it’s important to have a disaster plan and that animals should be included.

“This means pet owners need to know ahead of time where their animals will go during an emergency,” Barth said.

Barth said the disaster plan should also include necessary pet supplies, as well as food, medication and a copy of the pet’s vaccination records.

“If you don’t have a friend or family member that can take your pets, then research boarding facilities or other alternatives in advance and have those phone numbers readily available,” she said.

Proper identification, such as tags and microchips, provide pet owners the best chance of reuniting with their animals, Barth said.

“Not only that, but it may be the only way to prove ownership if that is questioned,” she said. “All animals that are part of a large scale evacuation would be scanned by the agency in charge, whether it’s the local animal shelter or rescue group assisting with sheltering.”

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