Pet Owners Urged to Include Animals in Bushfire Plans
With fires devastating the East Coast, and West Australians being warned to brace for a possible horror bushfire season, RSPCA WA is urging pet owners to include their animals in survival plans.
Many people think of their pet as a member of the family, but animals can often be overlooked when planning for emergencies.
By thinking ahead and acting early, you can avoid danger, panic and potentially fatal situations.
Although individual needs will vary, these three steps will help you plan for the safety of your pets in emergencies.
Include Pets in Your Survival Plan
Determine where your pets will be relocated to if you need to evacuate. This could be a boarding facility, or a family member or friend’s home located in a safe area. Many evacuation centres won’t accommodate animals, other than trained assistance dogs. So be sure to check with your council.
Ensure your cats and dogs are microchipped (make sure details are up to date) and wearing an ID tag, with their name and your mobile phone number. Vaccinations should also be kept up to date. It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours about your survival plan, in case you can’t get home in time to evacuate your pets.
Prepare Your Pet Emergency Kit
Preparing a pet emergency kit is an essential part of your planning process. It will ensure that you have everything you need to activate your plan quickly and effectively.
Your kit should include:
- Registration and vaccination certificates
- Transportation equipment (cages/carriers/crates)
- Cat litter and tray or poo bags for dogs
- Medications and clear instructions for treatment of any medical conditions
- Food and water bowls, and at least one week’s supply of non-refrigerated food
- Favourite toys
- Blankets/bedding/nesting material
- Harness and leads
- Photograph of your pets (including names)
- Contact details for your vet, local animal shelter, local council and alternative animal accommodation facility
Practise Your Survival Plan
Practising your emergency survival plan is a vital part of your preparation. This will help you to refine your plan, and prevent panic in the event of an emergency.
Horses and Livestock: To avoid unnecessary risks to you and your animals, move them to a safe place when emergency conditions are forecast. Spending a short time away is better than taking the risk of being caught out or trapped by rapidly changing conditions. For more on evacuating larger animals, click here.
If you are unable to evacuate your livestock or horses, it's important you prepare a safe place for them to reside. This area should be large, have minimal vegetation, preferably contain a dam and have room for the animals to move freely. Prepare your animals before leaving the property by providing access to food and clean water in containers that are resistant to fire.
Important: Animals should never be abandoned unless it is absolutely impossible to evacuate them. For more info on what steps to take if you must leave your pets behind, visit RSPCA’s Knowledgebase website.
To prepare your bushfire survival plan, visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/firechat
Comments attributed to RSPCA WA Communications Manager Richard Schoonraad:
“For most pet owners, losing an animal is like losing a family member. That’s why it’s so important to include pets in your emergency preparations.
“We’ve had a hot start to November, and the threat of dangerous bushfires is very real, especially for people in rural and regional WA.
“Having a plan in place greatly increases the likelihood of evacuating your pets and your family safely.
“We advise all pet owners to ensure their animals are microchipped and registered, and to make sure their contact details are up-to-date.
“Preparing your pet emergency kit ahead of time, and practising your plan will help reduce stress and panic in the event of a real emergency. This could be lifesaving for your beloved animals.”