Alameda County: Disaster relief trailers for pets cost $22,000 each

Alameda County is beefing up disaster readiness for its four-legged residents. 

Two identical 18-foot trailers are ready to go, each stocked with 65 collapsible crates for dogs and cats. 

"You get used to working in a building, where everything is there and accessible and you don't realize how frantic it becomes," said Jennifer Wills, Acting Supervisor at Alameda County Animal Services in Dublin. 

WIlls and several other officers traveled to Butte County to help run an animal evacuation shelter during the Camp Fire in 2018. 

As with wildfires before and since, it's a challenge rescuing animals, caring for them, and hopefully reuniting them with families during emergencies. 

"No matter how hard you try to prepare, you can't even anticipate half the items you'll need," said Wills. 

The new rigs are provided by AKC Reunite, a program of the American Kennel Club. 

"Equipped with everything we would need to set up temporary animal housing," said Wills, opening the trailer to show KTVU neatly organized stacks of supplies. 

"We have a generator, shop vacs, tents," listed Wills, "zip ties, batteries, flashlights, pens and paper." 

In a disaster, pet food donations are often plentiful, but the trailer provides dishes, leashes, muzzles, and equipment to help keep track of animals too.

"They supplied us with identification bands, microchips, and microchip readers," said Wills, "plus simple cleansing utensils and mops which you don't think of in the middle of a disaster. 

Everything, including those must-have pooper scoopers.   

The AKC has donated almost 300 such trailers across the country. 

Trailers from the Pet Disaster Relief Program cost about $22,000 each, and the AKC pays half if the local jurisdiction pays the rest. 

Alameda County contributed funds, but most of the local match was raised by the Del Valle Dog Club of Livermore. 

Nationally, almost 400 local dog clubs have participated to bring trailers to their communities. 

Trailers have been deployed after tornados and hurricanes, and could be invaluable during a California fire, flood, or quake. 

Wills hopes evacuees will find it reassuring to know a "Grab and Go" shelter is on scene, and can be set up near their own emergency shelter. 

"Many people won't leave without their animals, I know I wouldn't leave without mine, so this could be life-saving."