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County receives four new trailers for emergency animal transportation

Posted: October 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Fred Agoopi, lieutenant of emergency operations, puts a leash on Rebecca, a golden retriever, inside one of the new animal transportation trailers at the Castaic Animal Shelter. Photo by Charlie Kaijo.

Evacuation due to emergencies is not just for people anymore. 

The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation showed off four new emergency transport trailers Wednesday that will be used to get dogs and cats out of harm’s way — yet close to their owners — in event of a fire or other disaster.

“Hurricane Katrina was an eye-opening event,” said Fred Agoopi, lieutenant of emergency operations. “People will not evacuate from emergencies unless their pets are taken care of. We needed a vehicle in order to house animals during disasters.”

It’s all about “co-location.” Agoopi explained. Putting people at a Red Cross shelter and their pets at a distant animal shelter just doesn’t cut it.

With the new trailers, he said, people evacuated to a Red Cross shelter could have their pets either “in the same parking lot or at a close-by parking lot they can walk to and (can) visit their pets,” he said.

“Owners can come over and take them for walks, play with them, interact with them, be comforted themselves that their animals are fine,” said Marcia Mayeda, director of the county Department of Animal Care and Control.

The result is less stress for all evacuees — both four-legged and two-legged.

The new trailers can hold about 50 dogs and cats, said Mayeda, whereas the smaller trucks previously used for such occasions could hold only six or eight pets.

The Animal Care Foundation takes in about 80,000 animals a year across six shelters located throughoutthe county, serving all unincorporated counties in the area and 52 cities contracted with the department.

Most emergencies the shelter sees are wildfires, but the agency also responds to a number of other situations requiring a large-capacity vehicle for animal transport — such as hoarding cases.

“We’ve taken more than 300 animals from situations like that, so it’s quite a taxing event,” said Mayeda. “Many of these animals are in need of animal care and medical attention, so by bringing a trailer like this we’ll have a medical examination there in the triage room where our medical staff can look at the animals closely and see who needs to go for emergency medical care and who can go for routine care.”

The Animal Care Foundation acquired the trailers last month, and it hasn’t had occasion to use them — yet.

But they will be featured Sunday at the 13th annual Bow-Wows & Meows Pet Fair at William S. Hart Park. During the free event, people will be able to see more than 100 animals up for adoption inside one of the trailers.



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