Prepare your Pets
Print out copies of the Household emergency plan checklist and Prepare your Pets Emergency Plan checklist
Just as we need to prepare our family and our home for times of emergency or disaster, we also need to prepare our pets. Your pets are part of your household; by taking the time to prepare now you can improve the safety and well being of your family pets by ensuring their needs are included in your household preparedness planning.
Here are some steps you can take towards preparing for your pets:
The nature of any emergency can vary and occur with or without warning. Its duration and effects can be brief or lengthy and may require different steps to keep your pets safe. As a pet owner you need to consider your pet requirements within your household emergency plans. By acting early you can avoid unnecessary danger and anxiety to you and the animal. Although individual needs will vary, you need to decide on the best plan for your circumstances.
Check with your local council and other agencies on possible local hazards, local emergency plans and what arrangements are in place regarding temporary animal shelters during times of major emergencies or disasters. Take the time now to prepare for emergencies.
- Prepare your Home;
- Prepare your Pet's Emergency Plan and your Pet Emergency Kit;
- Prepare your Household Emergency Plan;
- Prepare your Household for Evacuation and your Evacuation Kit; and
- Tune into warnings.
As a pet owner, your responsibilities do not diminish before, during and after a disaster situation. If pets are likely to be at risk, every effort should be made to arrange to take them in advance to a safer area. This may be with relatives, friends, at an animal boarding facility or to a temporary animal shelter or evacuation centre which accepts animals. Not all Evacuation Centres may be able to accept animals.
Remember - Late evacuation can be very dangerous for both you and your animals. Prepare now!
You need to ensure that in an emergency your pets can shelter in a safe place, have access to food and clean water and, in the case of flooding, are able to get to higher ground. Take the time to consider their needs during times of disaster.
It may be necessary for you to evacuate from your home at short notice. If you are unable to return to your home immediately, you may need to board your pet and you should also include this eventuality in to your planning. Be prepared and take the time to:
- Prepare an emergency plan for all animals in your care, e.g. where will your pets go in an emergency? Planning needs to also include animals temporarily in your care.
- Consider the individual needs of all pets and animals in your care.
- Consider how the animal may react to different emergency scenarios, e.g. lightning, thunderstorms, wind, storm - will you be able to find them if they run with fright and hide?
- Ensure any animal in your care can be easily identified – preferable with two methods of identification; e.g. current registration tags, implanted microchip, or for birds a leg band.
- Include important telephone numbers in your emergency plan:
- If you have livestock, plan to move them into a safe area when warnings are issued.
If considering moving animals to a safer place, do so early to avoid unnecessary risk. Leaving your pet at home alone may place your animal in danger. Plan ahead and be prepared.
- Secure animals inside before an emergency event, so that they do not take flight, run away or hide.
- Use a secure pet carrier/cage, leash or harness to move any animals to safety. Animal behaviour can change before, during and after an emergency and such devices may be required to calm the animal down and to keep them from safe from harm.
- It may be possible for your pet to be boarded in a safe environment away from the emergency zone, e.g. with relatives, a friend, at an animal boarding facility or temporary animal shelter. Ensure all vaccinations remain current as most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will require your pet's vaccination and medical records.
- If you are able to house your animal in a temporary foster home, ensure your pet’s medical and feeding information, food, medicine and other supplies accompany them to the foster home.
- Ensure all pets are properly identified; e.g. current registration tags plus an additional identification method; such as implanted microchip or, for birds a leg band. Remember – during times of disaster, telephones may not be available and it is important any registered method includes your current address?
- Have a current photograph. This may assist in easily identifying you as the legal owner.
- Advise family and friends of your plans and arrange two possible family meeting places.
It may not be possible to take your pet with you to a temporary evacuation shelter. Prior planning is important - contact friends, family, veterinarians or boarding kennels, to arrange for care. Don’t forget to take your Pet Emergency Kit with you.
As a pet owner, you are responsible for the safety and well being of your household pets and assistance dogs. Ensure your Pet Emergency Kit is easily accessible and includes:
- Pet medications (for up to two weeks), medical and vaccination records and veterinarian details.
- Sufficient food (including treats) and water (e.g. bottled) for each animal - for up to a two week period. Don’t forget the can opener if you have tinned food.
- A familiar pet blanket or bedding, toys, grooming equipment. These may assist in keeping your pet calm in a stressful environment but can also assist in your pet’s comfort.
- A secure pet carrier, leash or harness to move any animals to safety.
- Consideration of your animal’s sanitation needs, which is important for their (and your) health; e.g. newspaper, paper towels disinfectant, rubbish bags.
- Birds must eat daily - put special food and water dispensers in their cage. To help calm the bird have a cover for the cage.
- Important telephone numbers; e.g. your veterinarian, pet information and advisory services.
- Details of identification methods.
- A current photograph for identification purposes.
If you do need to temporarily house your animals at home:
- If possible, leave your pets indoors, preferably in rooms that are easily cleaned, preferably with small or no windows. Alternatively undercover (shed, covered pen) with good ventilation.
- NEVER leave an animal tied up or chained.
- NEVER leave an animal outside without shelter, food and clean water and bedding.
- AVOID rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants or large picture frames.
- In case of flooding, position a heavy chair or crate to allow access (through step-ups) to a higher refuge such as benches, vanity units or shelves.
- Ensure each animal has a supply of food and water in large, heavy bowls. A slow-dripping tap can be an alternative supply for a constant source of water. Disinfect the toilet bowl, flush well and leave the lid open as an alternative water source.
- Provide toilet litter and bedding for each animal.
- Rescue Alert:
- Leave a note in a visible area for Emergency Services (window, door) advising what animals they may encounter on the property (where they can be located, how many).
- Provide a telephone number or address where you can be contacted, and the name and number of your veterinarian.
- Your pet has access to plenty of food and water. Provide more than one bowl of water (in case of spillage).
- Your pet has shelter and bedding.
- All animals under your care can be properly and easily identified, e.g. name tag, microchip, band.
- You have telephone numbers for your veterinarian/local animal welfare agency included in your household emergency kit.
- You never leave an animal tied-up or chained without shelter and bedding.
- You never leave an animal in a motor vehicle.
- You never leave an animal without food or water.
The behaviour of your pets may change after an emergency. Take care when releasing any animal as their environment may have been severely damaged and they may have become disoriented or frightened.
If you do need to take them outside, ensure dogs are leashed and are placed in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water. Cats and birds should be kept in a carrier/cage.
- In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside, so they don’t take fright and run away.
- Always maintain close contact as familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.
- Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behaviour closely.
- Check with pounds and shelters for missing animals.
- Snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area (e.g. through flooding) and can become a hazard to your pets.
- Downed power lines are also a hazard to your pets.
- Check fences – be sure they are intact.
- Check pastures and fences for sharp objects or debris that could injury livestock.
- In the unfortunate event of deceased animals, they will need to be disposed of or buried - seek advice from your local council or the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries on the appropriate safe methods.
In most cases, trained assistance dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners. Those that are accepted may require proper identification and proof of vaccination. Check with your local council for more information.
Ensure you include any trained assistance dogs in your care into Household Emergency Planning.
Trained assistance dogs means a dog trained to perform identifiable physical tasks and behaviours to assist a person with a disability to reduce the person’s need for support.
(Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009)
Although the majority of household’s pets are commonly dogs, cats and birds; the suggested information can be applied to all household emergency planning.
Should your household pet not fall within this category, e.g. aquariums, reptiles, small livestock (eg horses, pigs, fowls, goats, horses, cattle, sheep), it is suggested you contact specialised agencies, e.g. Queensland Primary Industry and Fisheries (livestock), the RSPCA, your animal’s veterinarian or local pet shop for specialised advice in planning for emergencies. This may include information and suggested ways to provide sufficient heating without a power supply, water, food and carriers.
Here are some suggestions for your consideration:
- Carry birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, etc in cages or pillowcases (tied firmly) or in secure boxes with small airholes.
- Put fish into a large wide-necked jar with a secure lid. Fill jar two-thirds with water and when stationery, remove the lid.
- Frogs need a small covered tub with 2.5cm (1inch) of water in the bottom and air holes in the top of the container.
- Snakes and lizards need to be put in a container with a secure lid and airholes; alternatively in a securely tied sack/pillowcase.
- Poultry and aviary birds can be affected by smoke. Make a hessian curtain to fit the cage. To use, drop the curtain and wet down.
Owners of livestock or farm animals should check with their local council or other agencies about likely hazards, local emergency plans and what arrangements are in place regarding temporary animal shelters and yards in time of major emergencies or disasters.
Bureau of Meteorology
Emergency Management Australia
Emergency Management Queensland
Queensland disaster management services
Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries
Trained assistance dogs
Last updated 9 August 2011