Whether you keep livestock or have a pet at home, preparing for a natural disaster will safeguard the welfare of your animals and assist with recovery after the event.
As a minimum, all owners and carers have a duty of care to provide appropriate food, water, shelter and treatment for injury or disease for their animals.
Having a contingency plan is vital. This may include taking the following actions:
- If you intend to evacuate your property and cannot take your animals with you, ensure they are in a safe place.
- Move livestock to higher ground if there is a risk that lower areas may become flooded. This may also mean opening gates and giving animals access to other paddocks or areas to escape rising waters or out of control bushfires. If possible, keep a map of where you are placing animals in case you are unable to return to your property and other people need to know where they are.
- Remove or clear flammable items - especially near where animals might be kept. Remove rugs and halters from horses as these can often burn or melt.
- Purchase emergency fodder supplies and store them in a safe place, preferably under cover. Ensure that pets have sufficient stocks of food, medication and water to last a period of emergency.
- Confine your pets in a safe place, preferably inside and under cover, and ensure they have access to plenty of water.
- Ensure that livestock and pets can be identified by a name tag or brand to help facilitate their return in case they become lost and displaced.
- Keep stock registers up to date and in a safe place.
- Secure loose objects around the home that may become airborne during high winds and cause damage to animals and property.
- Move animals to an alternative property if practical.
Contact your local council or other agencies about emergency animal shelters and yards that may be available for animal evacuations.
Remember that animals get jittery before a storm, and are more easily upset and spooked, so they need to be handled carefully.
For animal emergencies in natural disasters contact:
- RSPCA on 1300 852 188 or 1300 ANIMAL (264 625)
- Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23
- Department of Environment and Heritage Protection on 1300 130 372 (wildlife).