International Animal Welfare Training Institute

Photo: Emergency Response
Emergency Responders prepare a horse for airlift extraction

Emergency Preparedness

How do we care for animals in disasters and emergencies

When a fire or flood or other catastrophic event overwhelms a community, the first instinct is to grab the loved ones and head to safety. Many Californians couldn't even imagine leaving their animals behind, but haven't included the necessary preparations in their own emergency plans.

The California Emergency Management Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture combined forces with UC Davis' International Animal Welfare Training Institute and Veterinary Hospital under the California Animal Rescue Emergency System (CARES) banner to improve animal health and safety during emergency response efforts. The key area assigned to UC Davis IAWTI is the training segment.

"CARES is very important to the citizens of California," said Dr. John Madigan, Director of the International Animal Welfare Training Institute at UC Davis.   "Animals are important and disasters affect the well being of animals, and the public has justifiably asked "Who's looking out for the animals? What plans do we have for them. What about the horses and the cattle?  Those are important issues that we hope CARES will address," said Madigan.

"We've seen it time and time again, people will not evacuate their homes during a disaster unless they can take their animals with them," said Cal EMA Assistant Secretary Kelly Huston.  "It's very encouraging to see the passion and commitment many people have about this issue in California," said Huston.  "We're on the right track."

UC Davis has created training modules and curriculum for first responders, emergency planners and veterinarians to improve the care of animals in disasters.  Last year UC Davis IAWTI hosted numerous workshops in several counties of California to educate and inform. Officials from UC Davis, Cal EMA and CDFA all said these workshops were some of the most significant efforts in recent years to secure the safety of California's animals, from household pets to livestock.

Helpful animal resource information: