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Frequently Asked Questions

Abuse/Cruelty/Neglect
Laws protect animals against abuse, cruelty and neglect. These crimes are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. To report suspected cases for investigation, please contact Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5311. If you need an animal control officer to respond to an urgent situation in which an animal’s life is in immediate danger, please call 714-754-5674.   


Animal Bites

If you are bitten or scratched by any animal, seek immediate medical advice or attention Any person having knowledge of anyone having been bitten or scratched by a warm-blooded animal should immediately notify the Costa Mesa Animal Control or the Costa Mesa Police Department. Anyone willfully concealing this information is guilty of a misdemeanor. All instances of animal bites should be reported within 24 hours. In order to protect humans and other animals against the transmission of rabies or other diseases, Animal Control must document that the biting animal stays healthy for a period of 10 days after the bite occurs. To report a bite incident involving a loose or wild animal, please call 714-754-5674. Try to keep the animal’s whereabouts known until an animal control officer arrives. Do not put yourself or others at risk by attempting to restrain an aggressive or unfamiliar animal on your own. If the biting animal is not loose or is not an immediate threat to others, call 714-754-5311. When reporting a bite incident, be prepared to provide the following information:

  1. Victim name and contact information
  2. Animal owner information (if applicable)
  3. Description of the biting animal
  4. Place and circumstances of bite
  5. Description and location of wounds sustained
Animal Limits and Types
Costa Mesa residents may own up to five animals over the age of four months. Keeping of non-domesticated animals, livestock, reptiles, aviaries, and more than five domesticated animals is prohibited unless a special animal permit has been approved by the chief of police.

Barking Dog/Noisy Animal Complaints 
Beginning September 18, 2008, the City of Costa Mesa enacted a new barking dog/noisy animal ordinance.
Briefly, a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any noise audible beyond the boundaries of the property on which the dog is situated for more than 30 minutes incessantly or 60 minutes intermittently during a 24-hour period may be considered a barking dog according to Costa Mesa Municipal Code Section 3-8. According to the ordinance,
 

"The City Council of the City of Costa Mesa hereby decrees that maintaining, keeping, and/or permitting a barking dog, as defined in Section 3-8 of this Code, on any premises in the City of Costa Mesa constitutes a public nuisance. Every day the barking dog violation exists beyond the ten day notice period to correct the problem, as set out in Section 3-114 of this Code, shall be regarded as a new and separate offense" (Costa Mesa Municipal Code 3-113).

For more information on what constitutes a barking dog violation and how to file a barking dog complaint, please visit our page on Barking Dogs.

Bees

BeesBecause bee handling is a specialized job, Costa Mesa Animal Control does not remove bees but is available to help determine if a hive or swarm is present. Do not attempt to remove a hive or control a bee problem without professional assistance. If you are sure that bees are present, please take note of the following: 

For bee problems on private property, whether it is a business or a residence, please call a local beekeeper or bee removal service. Your phone book can provide you with a complete listing of bee removal companies.
To report a bee problem on city property (e.g. parks, sidewalk trees), please call 714-754-5674.
Per Costa Mesa Municipal Code Section 3-18, it is unlawful for any person to have, keep, or maintain a hive or swarm of bees within the city. 

Bird Diseases (Avian Influenza, Exotic Newcastle Disease and West Nile Virus)
Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls about birds and disease due to health concerns. This section will serve as a brief overview of the most prevalent diseases with links provided for more detailed information.

Avian Influenza
Avian Influenza

Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls about birds and disease due to health concerns. This section will serve as a brief overview of the most prevalent diseases with links provided for more detailed information.

Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls about birds and disease due to health concerns. This section will serve as a brief overview of the most prevalent diseases with links provided for more detailed information.

Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls about birds and disease due to health concerns. This section will serve as a brief overview of the most prevalent diseases with links provided for more detailed information.

Avian Influenza is a disease found among poultry. It can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl, as well as a wide variety of other birds, including migratory waterfowl. Each year, there is a flu season for birds just as there is for humans and as with people, some forms of the flu are worse than others. Avian Influenza is spread from bird to bird through contact with infected feces and respiratory secretions. Avian Influenza viruses can be classified into low pathogenicity and highly pathogenic forms based on the severity of the illness they cause in poultry. Most strains are classified as Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI) and cause few clinical signs in infected birds. In contrast, High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) causes severe and extremely contagious illness and death among infected birds. LPAI poses no known serious threat to human health, however some strains of HPAI viruses can be infectious to people. Since December 2003, a growing number of Asian countries have reported outbreaks of HPAI in chickens and ducks. Humans have also been affected, most of whom had direct contact with the infected birds. The rapid spread of HPAI in 2004 and 2005 is historically unprecedented and of growing concern for human health as well as animal health. The United States Department of Agriculture has strong safeguards in place to protect against HPAI outbreak in the United States and prevent its integration into our food system. For more information about Avian Influenza and the protective measures being taken, go to www.usda.gov/birdflu. If you would like more information on Avian Influenza with respect to humans, or are concerned about international travel to any country that has had an AI outbreak, please visit the Center for Disease Control

Exotic Newcastle Disease
Exotic Newcastle Disease
Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), previously known as Velogenic Viscerotropic Newcastle Disease, is a highly contagious viral disease that can infect all species of birds. Illegally smuggled pet birds, especially Amazon parrots from Latin America, pose a great risk of transmitting it into U.S. poultry flocks, while legally imported birds are first quarantined and tested for the disease. Amazon parrots that are carriers of the disease but do not show symptoms are capable of shedding the virus for more than 400 days. END is transmitted by contact with infected feces and respiratory secretions. Although it does NOT pose a public health threat, humans can pass it on to healthy birds by handling diseased ones. Both sick and healthy-appearing birds can easily spread the disease because a bird that seems healthy may be incubating or recovering from the disease, or be of a species that is not as seriously affected. Any poultry or pet bird owners or veterinarians who suspect a bird may have Exotic Newcastle Disease should immediately contact state or federal animal health authorities. For more information on Exotic Newcastle Disease, please visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is transmitted when a mosquito acquires the infection by feeding on a bird with virus in its blood, and then spreads it by feeding on other animals. Simply touching an infected bird does not transmit West Nile, but it is always safest to use gloves or a towel when handling them. The virus is more prevalent from May to October when mosquitoes are most abundant.
 

It is important to know that human-to-human transmission does not occur with this virus, so you cannot catch it from an infected person. Most people who are infected with West Nile have no symptoms. However, of those who become ill, symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, mild skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes. In a few cases, the disease will progress to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

To decrease exposure to mosquitoes, the following advice is recommended:
    1. Avoid spending time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. This is particularly important for the elderly and small children.
    2. Wear protective clothing (long pants and long sleeves) and apply insect repellant when outside. The California Department of Food and Agriculture recommends using DEET-based insect repellant according to instructions.
    3. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace any screens that have tears or holes in them.
    4. Remove all sources of standing water. Check home gutters in spring and fall and clean them if clogged. Change water in birdbaths daily. If you have a pond, it is recommended that you stock it with fish that eat mosquito larvae.
    5. Report heavy mosquito populations to Orange County Vector Control at 714-971-2421.
For more information on the latest West Nile activity, please visit the Center for Disease Control. If you wish to report a bird that you suspect may have West Nile Virus, you may contact Orange County Vector Control at 714-971-2421 or call the West Nile Virus reporting hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or go to www.westnile.ca.gov. For West Nile Virus bird pickup, please call Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5674.

To report a deceased or injured animal in the City of Costa Mesa but not located on a freeway, please call Costa Mesa Animal Control Dispatch at 714-754-5674. To report an injured live animal located on any freeway, please call California Highway Patrol at 714-567-6000. To report a deceased animal located on any freeway, please call CalTrans at 949-936-3600. Costa Mesa Animal Control will provide emergency care or humane euthanasia for stray animals only. When the pet is claimed, the owner will then be responsible for all costs incurred. If you are the owner of a sick or injured pet, it is your responsibility to take it to a veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital for care. Your phone book can provide you with a complete listing of veterinarians and emergency veterinary services. Although Costa Mesa Animal Control does not provide euthanasia service to household pets, if your pet passes away at home, you can call Animal Control for removal. If you are interested in private cremation or burial for your deceased pet, check with your veterinarian to help you with those arrangements, or look in the phone book for other pet aftercare options.

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Pet Owners  

Does your family have a disaster preparedness plan? Does it include your pets? We have a responsibility as pet owners to think about their welfare should a crisis occur. Different crises may necessitate modification to your plan, but the following are some general ideas that can be implemented into any disaster plan.
  1. Make up a care kit for pets. Consider preparing the following:
    1. Scissors, bandages, gauze pads, instant ice/heat pack, and latex gloves--items similar to those found in a human first aid kit. Please note, however, that items such as burn creams, antiseptic cleansers, antibiotic ointments, and eye drops/ointments should not be taken from a human first aid kit; they should be products specifically labeled for use on animals. Ask your veterinarian about how to obtain these and also ask if there are any other items that should be added.
    2. Include at least a week’s supply of any prescriptions or supplements your pets are taking and make sure to check the expiration dates on them frequently. Ensure that labels are clear so there is no mistaking the drug name and strength, dosing instructions, and veterinarian phone number. This is helpful to anyone caring for your pet so they may obtain more medication if needed.
    3. Prepare an extra week’s supply of food per pet (in sealed, water-tight containers in case of flooding) and bottled water, should the water supply become contaminated.
    4. For cats, don’t forget a small litter box and litter.
    5. For each pet, include one extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash. A microchip is strongly recommended in case you get separated from your pet and their collar is lost or removed. See your veterinarian for information about microchips.
    6. Take pictures of your pets, especially any distinguishing markings. Place these in a water-tight plastic bag with photocopies of important paperwork, such as current vaccines, medical alerts, allergies, etc.
    7. You may want to add a blanket, stuffed animal, or chew toy in your kit for your pet’s emotional comfort.
    8. In case of temporary displacement, have a crate or carrier for each pet available. Place your care kit inside or on top of the pet crate in an easily accessible place so that it is ready to grab and go.
  2. Plan where your animals will go during an emergency if your home become uninhabitable and no friend or family is available to care for them. This should include researching boarding kennels, veterinary hospitals, pet training facilities, and hotels (some of which are pet friendly; others may make an exception during a crisis). To ensure these facilities are not affected by the same disaster, be sure to also research facilities in nearby cities. Start a buddy system with a neighbor in the event you are not at home. Exchange information such as emergency phone numbers, veterinarian information, feeding/medication schedules, and the evacuation plan.
  3. Know where your local shelters are so you can check there if your pet becomes lost during an emergency. Shelters may be overwhelmed and might not be able to keep large numbers of displaced animals for long, so visit as soon as possible. Do not despair if your pet has not been turned in immediately; rescue efforts are continual, so check consistently.

Feces Ordinance

Costa Mesa Municipal Code 3-12 states that it is unlawful to leave your pet's feces on any public property that is not owned by you. Violation of this law is punishable by fine.

Leash Law / Stray Animals
The city requires that dogs that are not on their own property be on a 6-foot or shorter leash, held by a person who can completely control the dog at all times The only exception are dogs in Costa Mesa Bark Park. Violation of this law is punishable by fine. All other animals may not be allowed to roam off your property. Straying cats that roam onto your property without your permission may be humanely trapped, but Costa Mesa Animal Control must be contacted for pickup. 

Rabies
Rabies is a virus that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including humans. It is spread by saliva from infected animals, usually from a scratch or bite. Rabies is 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear. The most effective way to control rabies is to have every dog and cat vaccinated.

To learn more about public health concerns with rabies, visit the Center for Disease Control.

Responsible Pet Ownership
Animals rely on us to be responsible pet owners and they deserve our best effort in their care. Most pet owners will readily agree the care we give them is well worth the unconditional love and companionship given to us in return. When you decide you want an animal of your own, the following will help you become a responsible pet owner. 

Consider Their Needs 

When first considering getting a pet, remember that having one means a commitment to them for their entire lives. Some dogs and cats can live for 15 years or more. Some birds and turtles can live much longer. It is also essential to think about the needs, both physical and financial, of the type and age of pet you would like. As well as nutritious food, shelter, and veterinary care, your pet may have special needs. Puppies, for instance, will need basic obedience training that can last for weeks or months. Some dogs, especially elderly dogs, may need to take a consistent dose of medicine. Thick-coated breeds might have extra grooming needs that require the assistance of a professional. Consider Their Health. 

  1. Finding a veterinarian for your pets is essential. Ask friends and family for references; if you are new in the area, ask your neighbors which veterinary facility they use for their pets. Veterinarians can advise you about general health matters, what vaccinations are needed, and when is the proper time to spay or neuter your pet.
  2. The procedure of spaying (for females) and neutering (for males), also known as “fixing” or “altering,” removes the reproductive organs, thereby relieving undesirable reproductive urges. Domesticated pets do not need these urges like their wild counterparts do. For cats, this means eliminating male territorial urine-spraying and female heat cycles that cause yowling and attraction of many male cats. For dogs, this means eliminating males mounting people or objects, lifting their legs to mark territory, and other hormone-related issues. In all animals, the chance of certain cancers is greatly reduced if they are fixed. The biggest reason for spaying and neutering your pets is that there are simply too many dogs and cats for the available homes, and your responsibility as a pet owner includes not allowing yours to add to the excessive number. Also, if your unaltered dog should be impounded, there are additional fines you must pay in addition to the normal impound fees.
  3. When it is hot, keep your pet in a cool environment with free access to water. It is best to exercise pets outside only in the morning or evening when it is cooler. If you must walk your pet during the heat of day, keep the walks short; being close to the ground means they are likely to absorb more heat. Keep your pet groomed so that excess hair does not contribute to heat retention. Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle, even on a cloudy day. The car’s internal temperature rises quickly, causing brain damage or heat stroke to pets inside. Parking in the shade and/or cracking the windows are often not enough to keep the temperature adequate for a pet’s survival. Animals in distress left in vehicles can be impounded for their safety and their owners changed with a crime.

Consider Their Safety
Does your pet have identification? This is important, especially if you travel anywhere with your pet. Identification tags and license tags attached to a collar or harness are a good start, however, sometimes these are removed or lost. Costa Mesa Animal Control strongly urges all pet owners to microchip their pets. A microchip is a very small information chip (the size of a grain of rice) implanted under the skin between the pet's shoulders. Microchips are extremely valuable as a way for lost pets to be quickly reunited with their owners should their collar be lost or removed, and most any animal can get a microchip. Costa Mesa animal control officers, as well as shelters, have special scanners to immediately determine if a microchip is present. Contact your veterinarian for more information. 

For your pet’s sake and the safety of other motorists, never carry animals unrestrained in the back of a truck. Let them ride up front or leave them at home. It is NOT advisable to simply tie them by leash or rope to the truck bed. Too long a line may strangle or drag them if they jump out or if you are involved in an accident. Too short a line and they can’t balance properly against sudden shifts. If your pet must ride in back, put them in a crate and secure the crate to the truck bed. This will also protect them from flying road debris. Holiday traditions such as New Year's Eve and Fourth of July noises, Halloween costumes, and unfamiliar holiday party guests can be stressful to pets. If your pet suffers from noise or people anxiety, place them in a quiet room (preferably in a crate) to avoid the chance of them escaping or biting from fear. On holidays and at all times when chocolate is plentiful, be very careful that dogs cannot get access to it as it contains an enzyme that is toxic and potentially fatal to them. Your veterinarian may have further recommendations regarding pet safety on holidays.

Unwanted Animals
Costa Mesa Animal control will not pick up live pets that the owner no longer wishes to keep. It is the owner's responsibility to either place the pet with a new owner, take it to a shelter for adoption, or have it humanely euthanized by a veterinarian. Abandoning an animal is a misdemeanor.

Vector Control (Fire Ants, Flies, Mice, Mosquitoes, Rats, Ticks)
Vectors are animals or insects such as fire ants, flies, mice, mosquitoes, rats, and ticks that can transmit diseases to humans. Costa Mesa Animal Control does not provide vector control services. Call the Orange County Vector Control District for response to vector-related questions and complaints. A trained vector control technician can help you decide the best way to solve any problems. Orange County Vector Control District 13001 Garden Grove Blvd. Garden Grove, CA 92843 Mailing address: P.O. Box 87, Santa Ana, CA 92702 (714) 971-2421 or (800) 734-2421www.ocvcd.org.

Wildlife (Bats, Birds, Coyotes, Ducks, Opossums, Raccoons, Skunks, Snakes, Squirrels, Wildcats)
Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls about injured wildlife. Organizations in Southern California are dedicated to the rehabilitation of displaced or injured wildlife. Animal Control recommends that you not make an attempt to remove or rescue any injured wildlife without first contacting one of these groups or Costa Mesa Animal Control. For a list of these organizations, go to the California Department of Fish and Game or call Costa Mesa Animal Control Dispatch at 714-754-5674.

All wildlife is protected by the California Department of Fish and Game. Information on the above-listed species of wildlife will be included in this section. For more information on various wildlife topics, please visit the California Department of Fish and Game or contact them at 858-467-4201.
You can do several things to make it less likely for wildlife to become a nuisance. You may need the cooperation of your neighbors to make your efforts more successful.
  1. Store trash bags in containers. Make sure containers are covered and securely latched.
  2. Keep pet food indoors and do not leave food of any kind outside.
  3. Eliminate all fallen and rotting fruit from fruit trees.
  4. Check fencing and eliminate any possible point of entry.
  5. Check home foundations, eaves, and vents, and seal any possible points of entry.
  6. Clear any dense vegetation and debris from your property.
Bats
Bats are nocturnal mammals that are often mistaken for low-flying birds at dusk or dawn. They are very important to our ecosystem for many reasons, including insect control, seed dispersion, and plant pollination.
Bats have been known to transmit rabies although the vast majority of bats are not sick. You cannot tell if a bat has rabies simply by looking at it; it must be tested in a laboratory to obtain a positive diagnosis.
If you have been bitten by a bat, immediately seek medical advice or attention. The following are recommendations to diminish the risk of transmission:
  1. If you encounter a bat on the ground or floor, especially during daylight, do not touch it with your bare hands. Use leather work gloves or a thick towel. Cover it or gently put it in a box and leave small holes in the top so it can breathe. Do not kill the bat. It may simply be injured, as can be the case when very young bats fall from their roost. Call Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5674 for pickup.
  2. Teach children not to touch any strange animals. Children should be taught this at a very early age due to their natural curiosity and willingness to help an animal that appears to be hurt.
  3. Inspect your home yearly to check for and seal holes where bats can gain entry. Any hole bigger than one-half inch should be caulked. Garage vent screens, attic screens, and chimney caps should also be used.
  4. Keep rabies vaccinations current for cats and dogs. If you suspect your pet has had contact with a sick bat, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Wild Birds
Costa Mesa Animal Control will respond to all calls regarding injured wil birds as well as dead birds found on city property. Please call 714-754-5674 for this service. Dead birds found on private property can be disposed of by placing the bird in a plastic bad while wearing gloves and depositing it in your garbage.
If you wish to report a dead bird that you suspect may have West Nile Virus, first contact Orange County Vector Control at 714-971-2421 to see if birds in our city are currently being tested. If they are, please call the reporting hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473) or go to www.westnile.ca.gov.
If birds scavenging and/or roosting become problems, they most likely have a continual food source such as someone feeding the birds, nearby bird feeders, or uncontained garbage. It is imperative in these cases to eliminate all access to their food and water sources. This includes not overfilling garbage bins and ensuring lids are secure. If you have a roosting problem with a large flock, you can contact the California Department of Fish and Game South Coast Region at 858-467-4201 or Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5311.
If you find a wild baby bird out of its nest, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator before attempting to rescue the bird. There are circumstances where moving any bird will do more harm than good. A trained wildlife specialist will be able to advise you on the best course of action. Please call Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5311 for the names and phone numbers of wildlife rehabilitators in the area or visit the California Department of Fish and Game.
If you have encountered a raptor (bird of prey) that appears to be injured or ill, please call either the Orange County Bird of Prey Center at 949-837-0786 or Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5311. Owls, eagles, falcons, condors, hawks, ospreys, and kites are all raptors. Please do not attempt to care for an orphaned raptor; it is illegal because state and federal laws protect them.
Coyotes
Coyotes are found in all areas of Orange County and throughout California, from desert and mountain habitats to urban areas. Coyotes are far from domesticated, but seem to survive and flourish in the urban setting. They are a critical component to our ecosystem and observiing all wild animals is one of the benefits of living near Orange County wildlife habitats.
Problems can occur when well meaning people deliberately or unintentionally cause coyotes to lose their natural fear of people. The following suggestions are provided to reduce conflicts with coyotes:
    1. Protect children. Although rare, coyote attacks involving children have occurred. Never leave small children unattended in areas frequented by coyotes, even in your yard. Teach children from a very young age to avoid strange animals.
    2. Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts you, your neighbors, and pets at risk. You may be inadvertantly feeding coyotes by leaving pet food dishes and garbage where they can get to it. Store bags of pet food inside. Make sure trash containers are covered and securely latched. Leaving garbage in bags alone is an invitation to scavengers like coyotes to rip them open and scatter the contents. Remove fruit that has fallen to the ground. Clear brush and dense weeds from your property to make the area less attractive to rodents: a good food source to a coyote.
    3. Protect pets. No pets, especially small animals, should ever be allowed to run loose. Besides being a city violation, loose pets are easy prey and some coyotes seek out cats in residential areas. Declawed cats are no match for a coyote because in addition to losing their first line of defense, it is much more difficult for them to climb anything to escape. Coyotes are especially agile and can easily scale a residential fence, so backyard pets should have consideration, too. Bring small dogs inside at night and keep all dogs under close supervision. Rabbit hutches should have a solid bottom; a hutch standing above ground with only a wire mesh bottom makes your pet rabbit a very easy target.
If you see a coyote behaving aggressively or attacking people, contact the California Department of Fish and Game at 858-467-4201 or their 24-hour dispatch center at 916-445-0045. Costa Mesa Animal Control is also available for emergency response at 714-754-5674.
Ducks
Ducks are common in Costa Mesa and sometimes take up residence in a backyard or are seen crossing a busy street with their new brood. Ducks are protected by federal law and cannot be bothered or relocated without a special permit. This means steps should be taken to prevent uninvited nesting before the mating season begins, which is late February to August. The following are some suggestions to discourage ducks from making a backyard area a nesting site:
  1. Cover swimming pools when not in use, especially during nesting season.
  2. Allow beach or pool balls to float on the surface of ponds or fountains.
  3. Clear away foliage from around water sources to eliminate a protected nesting area.
  4. Enclose above-ground decks with skirting to eliminate another possible nesting site.
If you need a referral to organizations that are licensed to work with ducks, call Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5311. If you need the assistance of an animal control officer, please call 714-754-5674.
For more information on the Federal Migratory Fowl Act, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Opossums and Raccoons
Opossums are mainly nocturnal marsupials and do not have a permanent home base. They will stay in one location only for a short time (1-2 days) but will return often if food and shelter are readily available and there is little threat from predators. Increased opossum sightings occur between February and June, as they bear more young during this time. They are not aggressive and are not known to attack humans without provocation.
Raccoons can be easily identified by the black mask on their faces. They are nocturnal, but like the opossum, can adjust to being active during daylight hours. Raccoons are extremely nimble with their paws and can open garbage can lids.

Skunks
Skunks are nocturnal wildlife and usually not troublesome, but some can become a residential nuisance if food, water, and shelter are more readily accessible close to your home than away from it. Skunks possess glands at the base of their tail that produce a strong, offensive odor. When they feel threatened, they usually warn you by stomping their front feet in agitation. With or without warning, however, they can aim and release their glands at their target. This spray can travel 10 feet.
If your pet has been "skunked," the best way to remove the smell is to bathe it. The longer you wait to bathe your pet, the harder it is to remove the smell, and a small amount of odor may still remain (although in time the smell will disappear). If your pet has sensitive skin or is being treated for any skin condition, it is important to check with your veterinarian before using this or any commercial product. Avoid getting in pet's eyes.

Skunk Scent Removal Solution
  • 2 pints hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons liquid dish detergent
  • 1 pint tomato juice
Mix together just before bathing your pet. Massage into hair coat and let set for 10 minutes. Rinse well.
If you live within the city limits, Costa Mesa Animal Control will pick up any humanely trapped skunk that you wish removed from your property. Please call 714-754-5674 for this service. Skunks need to be completely secured in a solid-walled container for Animal Control response (e.g. the trap placed inside a covered, empty garbage can).
Snakes
Snakes, like many other wild animals, are very important to our ecosystem. Warmer weather brings out several species of snakes in Orange County, most commonly gopher snakes, king snakes, and rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are venomous and whil they can cause serious injury to people, encounters with them within Costa Mesa city limits are very rare. It is much more common to come across a gopher snake and mistakenly identify it as a rattler due to the similarity of the skin color and markings.
Rattlesnakes have the telltale rattle at the end of their tails and gopher snakes do not, but sometimes rattlesnakes have lost the rattle, the snake's surroundings obscure the view of the rattle, or a baby rattlesnake may only have one "button," thereby increasing the difficulty of telling them apart. A good indicator, however, is the shape of the head and body. Rattlesnakes have a heavier body and a distinct flare to the head with a narrowing at the neck. Non-venomous snakes have more tapered bodies with a rounded nose and narrower head.
If you encounter a snake at your residence, call Costa Mesa Animal Control at 714-754-5674. If bitten by a snake, it is important to stay calm and immediately seek medical advice or attention.
For more information on snakebites, visit California Poison Control or call them at 800-876-4766.
Squirrels
Squirrels are common in our city and are enjoyable to watch. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and insects, among other fodder. They occasionally become a nuisance, because like other chewing animals, they can damage ornamental and potted plants, wood, and insulation. They can also enter homes through attic vents and other access points. Costa Mesa Animal Control gets many calls from citizens asking what can be done to control them.
If you feed squirrels, know that feeding even one may attract many! While this may be enjoyable for you, it might be a problem for your neighbors. Even if they are not deliberately fed, squirrels may get a meal if you or your neighbors have a bird feeder, as they are quick to figure out a way to access this food source. Some bird feeders that claim to be squirrel-proof, and may be sold at feed stores or garden centers. Remove other food sources, such as fallen fruit from trees.
Some hardware stores carry motion-sensor water devices that blast water when movement is detected. Rubber snakes, plastic owls, coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, and mothballs have had mixed results.
For squirrels that are getting into your home, it is wise to check your house every year for possible points of entry, paying particular attention to foundations, eaves, and attic vents. Some points of entry can be blocked by installing heavy-gauge wire mesh over the access area.
If you want to get rid of squirrels on your property, you can contract a pest removal company that works with squirrel problems. You can also humanely trap and relocate them within a 5-mile radius of where they were trapped. Some feed stores and hardware stores rent or sell humane traps.
Wildcats
Mountain lions and bobcats live in Orange County and are occasionally seem in urban areas, although sightings in Costa Mesa have been rare. Bobcats mainly feed on smaller animals such as birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles. Mountain lions can hunt these and also larger animals like deer. Both cats have been known to kill domestic livestock.
Like any wildlife, wildcats can be dangerous and mountain lion attacks are being analyzed to avoid them in the future. The following suggestions are based on studies of mountain lion behavior and analysis of attacks by mountain lions, tigers, and leopards:
  1. Do not hike alone. Go in groups, with adults supervising children and keeipng them close by and within sight at all times.
  2. Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  3. Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
  4. Do not crouch down or bend over. A person squatting or bending over appears to look a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you are in mountain lion country, avoid unnecessary squatting, crouching, or bending over.
  5. Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms and open your jacket, if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
  6. Fight back if attacked. Wildcats have been fought off with stones, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, and bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the animal.