This week’s rain and flooding across Southern California have triggered an increased number of lost dogs surrendered at OC Animal Care in Tustin.
Over the past week, there have been 111 dogs surrendered at the shelter — 82 of them stray, according to county spokesperson Alexa Pratt.
The shelter’s current lost dog page lists 59 pets.
Of those listings, 51 of the dogs were brought to the shelter this month.
In response to the increased intake of lost dogs, animal shelter officials are advising pet owners to bring their animals indoors during days of heavy rainfall.
If that’s not an option, pet owners are advised to ensure their dogs are safely secured outdoors and don’t escape during the harsh weather.
The shelter posts photos of the lost animals currently housed in the facility.
Pet owners who have lost a dog are advised to check the shelter website and post information online about their missing animal to spread the word.
Shelter leaders are also calling for temporary fosters to house a dog for a few weeks in order to make room for more stray dogs displaced by the weather. OC Animal Care provides each foster with a starter kit containing food a leash, a collar and tags for the animal.
“Opening your home gives a current shelter dog a loving home to weather the storm and enables the shelter to prioritize housing for lost dogs as they wait for their families to bring them home,” reads a media alert sent out by the county Wednesday afternoon.
Residents can contact OCACPrograms@occr.ocgov.com to become a temporary dog foster.
April Josephson, executive director of The Pet Adoption Center of Orange County, said dogs that spend more time outside are at greater risk of getting lost during severe weather.
“During any natural disaster, there are always more people and pets in need as they are displaced,” Josephson said. “Dogs, especially those not kept in secure indoor areas, are the most vulnerable.”
The call for help also comes after the shelter previously called for emergency fosters in November after a fire at the former Marine Corps Air Station. A historic wooden hangar at the base burned to the ground just across the street from the shelter.
After that fire, all the dogs were moved inside for over a week, prompting county leaders to ask for help to give the animals more space to stretch out and get fresh air.
Now, in the aftermath of California’s storm, residents are also encouraged to adopt an animal to help with space shortages.
Visitors are now able to adopt an animal in person and browse the kennels instead of relying on the appointed-based system used for several years at OC Animal Care.
[Read: OC Animal Shelter to Allow More In-Person Visitors]
The shelter recently opened up its doors to in-person adoptions, allowing residents to walk through the kennel areas for the first time since before the pandemic.
The shelter opens kennels for walkthroughs three hours each day. Visitors can schedule adoption visits from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day or walk through the kennel areas during daily viewing hours from 2 to 5 p.m.
Angelina Hicks is a Voice of OC Tracy Wood Reporting Fellow. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @angelinahicks13.
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