Animal Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness for Livestock and Large and Small Animals

2015 Rim Fire | Photo courtesy of Dan Bartletti, Los Angeles Times

Photo Courtesy of Napa Community Animal Response Team

Photo Courtesy of the Newcastle Herald


Cal OES is dedicated to supporting local governments, tribal nations, and the public in supporting animal response efforts. We coordinate closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the lead agency for California Emergency Support Function (CA ESF-11), and the CDFA California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES) Unit. Animals and livestock are an important part of our society and must be considered in all phases of emergency management. This webpage serves as a hub for a variety of resources available that are related to animal preparedness and response; whether you own pets, a hobby farm, an equine facility, or are a commercial agricultural producer.

Animals in Disasters Working Group

California Department of Food and Agriculture and Cal OES co-lead a workgroup of identified stakeholders to address ongoing issues regarding animal evacuation, care, and shelter in disasters. The working group is a standing body that meets regularly and develops new or enhance existing resources such as policies, guidance, people, and equipment.

Goals of the Animals in Disasters Working Group:

  • Identify, resolve, and provide statewide guidance on animal disaster issues for local governments.
  • Continually reassess and identify critical issues that are animal-related for resolution.


California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES)

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) in response to legislation signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on September 29, 2006 has been working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the development of the California Animal Response Emergency System (CARES). The California Emergency Services Act, Section 8608, includes direction on implementation and authorities of the CARES program.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Cal OES and CDFA was agreed upon and signed as required by the government code. The development of planning documents and a concept of operations continues as lessons learned from the 2007 Southern California Fires as well as more recent emergencies are studied and incorporated into the process. 

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 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 CARES through the joint efforts of the 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.

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).

For more information visit the CARES Website at

University of California, Davis: California Veterinary Emergency Team (CVET)

University of California, Davis, leaders, veterinarians and California legislators today unveiled a new emergency program to help care for animals in disasters. Called the California Veterinary Emergency Team (CVET) and administered by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the program will support and train a network of government agencies, individuals and organizations to respond to domestic animals and livestock affected during emergencies.

A primary goal of the new California Veterinary Emergency Team is to increase response capacity and help standardize disaster response across counties, bringing together disparate and fragmented groups. Currently, the California Animal Response Emergency System, or CARES, within the California Department of Food and Agriculture is charged with managing evacuation and care of animals during emergencies. They also work with community animal response teams and nonprofit organizations.

Animal and Livestock Preparedness

Evacuation Resources

Carcass Management

Danielle Chapman

Danielle Chapman

Emergency Services Coordinator

Office: (916) 845-8153