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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:


Plan ahead

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. 

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!

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Preparing your pets and animals

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:

  • Your veterinarian
  • Help for injured or trapped native animals
    (eg wildlife ranger, animal rescue service, etc)
  • Local animal welfare agency
  • Pet information and advisory services

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Be Prepared

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.

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.

Pack a Pet Emergency Kit

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:

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Be considerate

If you do need to temporarily house your animals at home:

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After the event

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.

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Trained assistance dogs

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)

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What if your pet is not a dog or cat or bird?

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:

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.

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Further information and reading

Bureau of Meteorology

Emergency Management Australia

Emergency Management Queensland

Queensland disaster management  services

Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries


Trained assistance dogs

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Last updated 9 August 2011