It is your responsibility to prepare for the safety and welfare of your pets or other farm animals in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
If you plan ahead and are prepared your animals will stay safe and out of danger.
Check with your local shire about the possibility of natural hazards in your area and if there are animal welfare arrangements in place during an emergency.
It is a good idea to have a pet emergency kit and a plan for domestic pets to help guide you in the lead up to and during emergency situations.
Preparing pets for an emergency
*If pets are likely to be at risk, every effort should be made to arrange to take them to a safer area in advance. This might be to take them to relatives, friends, animal boarding facilities or to a temporary animal shelter or evacuation centre which accepts animals.
Make sure that you supply
- Sufficient non-perishable pet food for several days and feed/water bowls
- A leash, possibly a muzzle or a carry-cage, bag or box
- Toilet litter or old newspapers
- Essential medications and first aid kit and the pets’ medical history and vet contact details
Allow for the special needs of some animals
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- Carry birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice etc in cages or pillowcases (tied firmly) or in secure boxes with small air holes
- Put fish in a large wide necked jar with a secure lid. Fill the jar two thirds with water. When travelling, regularly blow through a straw into the water to aerate it, remove lid when stationary
- Frogs need a small covered tub with 2.5cm (1 inch) of water in the bottom and air holes in the top
- Snakes and lizards need to be put in a container with a secure lid and air holes, or a sack/pillowcase
- As poultry and aviary birds are affected by smoke, make a hessian curtain to fit the cage,to use, drop the curtain and wet down
If evacuating and absolutely unable to take your pets
Animals should only be left behind when it is impossible to move them in advance or to take them with you.
The RSPCA advises that if animals have to be left and are in danger of suffering a painful death, owners should humanely put them down where possible.
If you do leave them, at least take these precautions:
- If possible leave your pets indoors
- If they have to be left outside do not tie them up
- Place pets (separated) in rooms with small or preferably no windows, use use easily cleaned areas eg laundry, bathroom, toilet. Avoid rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants or large picture frames
- Provide adequate food and water in large heavy bowls that can’t be tipped over, a slow-dripping tap can supply a constant source of water)
- Birds must eat daily so provide food dispensers that regulate the amount of food
- In the case of flood, position a heavy chair or crate to allow access to higher refuge such as benches, vanity units or shelves where adequate food and water should be left
- Provide toilet litter where appropriate and separate bedding for each pet
- Make sure all pets are properly identified
- Tell a friend or relative where you can be contacted, where your pets are and what their needs are
- Leave a note for the emergency services indicating what animals they will encounter in the home, how many, where and how you can be contacted
*Extracts of this content were produced by EMA in close consultation with the RSPCA, the Australian Veterinary Association and relevant State and Territory emergency management agencies through the National Community Awareness Advisory Group
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Trained assistance dogs
Generally trained assistance dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners.
Those accepted may require proper identification and proof of vaccination.
It’s advisable to check with your local shire or council for more information.
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Returning home after a disaster
After a natural disaster the environment will have changed. Animals may become disorientated, frightened and aggressive during this time.
Take care when releasing them and do so in a confined area to avoid their escape.
Check with pounds, shelters, animal control authorities and boarding facilities for missing animals. Take a recent photograph of your pets with you to help identify them.
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Sick and injured animals
If you find sick or injured wildlife call Wildcare on 9474 9055. This service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
RSPCA WA may also provide support and relocation for lost and injured animals after natural disasters.
For more information visit www.rspcawa.asn.au or call 9209 9300.
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