Wednesday, September 21, 2011

INCLUDE PETS IN BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL PLAN, WARNS RSPCA



Nearly 80 bushfires were reported to the NSW Rural Fire Service in the past two days. With bushfire season upon us, RSPCA NSW is urging the public to include their animals when preparing a family bushfire evacuation plan.

Because animals can get very distressed in smoky environments, pet owners should take precautionary measures whenever possible. The RSPCA recommends that people relocate their animals to a safe place before there’s an immediate threat or evacuation.

“Planning ahead is critical,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David OShannessy. “Often, people have no choice but to leave their animals behind because they’ve not considered their pets as part of their evacuation plan.”

Bushfire survival plans should include separate strategies to care for companion animals and livestock.

In preparation for an emergency, the RSPCA recommends:
  • Having carry boxes (for smaller pets), leads (for dogs) and halters (for horses) readily accessible – if possible, familiarise pets with boxes and leads in advance so they become more comfortable with them
  • Ensuring pets wear collars and tags at all times – tags should include the animal’s name, owner’s name and phone number
  • To always have a secondary contact number on the ID tag or microchip record – a home phone won’t be answered in an evacuation
  • Ensuring pets are microchipped and registered with your local council, as required under NSW law
  • Preparing an emergency pet supply kit – food and water (remember to pack a can opener if feeding canned food), food and water bowls, kitty litter and litter tray for cats, medication, blankets and towels
  • Keeping current photos of your pets and a detailed description of them, in the event they become lost
  • If pets should become lost during an emergency, contact the RSPCA for helpful tips on how to locate them
  • Appointing a backup person – possibly a trustworthy neighbour – who can implement your evacuation plan in your absence

Livestock tips include:
  • Preparing and maintaining fuel-reduced areas onto which livestock can be moved and held
  • Having emergency supplies of fodder and water available

“Pets typically cannot survive on their own so taking animals with you is strongly recommended whenever possible,” said Chief Inspector OShannessy.

For more information on animal welfare in emergencies, visit: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/emergency

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