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Sadly, in recent years, bushfires and fires have claimed the lives of a number of pets.Whether your pets are at home with you or relocated during fire risk days, or you’re away together on holidays, you need to plan and prepare for their safety. With a pet emergency plan in place, you can greatly increase the likelihood of evacuating your pets to safety.Ensure you’re ready with a Disaster Management Plan. Not sure how to create one? Please click here.Bushfire FAQsWhat is the process for rescuing animals from bushfires? Do you or another emergency agency attend and how do you work together?In NSW, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) are the primary agency for animal welfare during any emergency, however they often delegate responsibilities to RSPCA NSW or Animal Welfare League due to their emergency training and equipment. DPI have someone on staff who communicates updates to all relevant agencies (RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League etc.) that have officers at evacuation centres or are running their own animal evacuation centres. RSPCA NSW also have a strong working relationship with NSW Emergency Services and are often called directly during an emergency to assist their teams with animals in need of assistance.What should I do about my pets in the case of an evacuation?If you are currently being evacuated and do not have a Pet Emergency Plan, it is important to know that pets should not be abandoned unless it is absolutely impossible to safely evacuate them. When taking your pets with you in the case of evacuation, try to also take as many of the following pet items as you can before you leave the property: • Registration certificates • Vaccination certificates • Cat litter and tray for cats • Poo bags for dogs • ID tags (including pets name and your mobile phone number), collars, leads etc. • Food and water bowls, and at least one week’s supply of non-refrigerated food • Pet medications and clear instructions for treatment of any medical conditions • Pet blankets/bedding/nesting material • A few of your pet’s toysIf you cannot evacuate or are forced to leave your pets behind, be sure to follow this advice: • Do not tether pets (tie them up) as they will be unable to flee if danger is imminent. • Provide food and water for at least one week in accessible places and in more than one container that can’t be tipped over. • Ensure pets are properly identified (for example, a collar with an ID tag and microchip). • Leave a note on the front door or on your mail box stating your mobile phone number, how many pets are located on the premises, their species, names and a photo. • If you can, bring your pets inside. If you are home, shut your pets inside the house so they are close by and can exit with you once the danger has passed. If you have to leave pets behind alone, leave them in a safe, secure room. Ideally this room would have no windows and must have adequate air (like a big bathroom). Avoid rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants or large picture frames. • If you have to leave your pets outside, ensure there is plenty of water available from a source that does not rely on power or above-ground pipes. In a bushfire, move pets to a closely grazed or ploughed paddock with drinking water, steel fencing and preferably shade. In a severe storm (including hail), place pets under solid cover e.g. a shed or barn. Do not place synthetic blankets on your horses, as these may melt during extreme heat. Provide a minimum of five day’s food/hay or ensure access to pasture.If you need further assistance, please contact NSW Emergency Services and they can assist you further and take the appropriate action to keep you and your pets safe.How should I prepare for a fire if I have pets?Just as we need to prepare our family and property for emergencies and natural disasters, we also need to prepare our animals. After human safety, the welfare of your animals should be your most important consideration in the event of a natural disaster. It is up to you to plan ahead and be prepared before an emergency happens to ensure the safety of yourself and your pets.Preparing a pet emergency kit is an essential part of your planning process. It will ensure that you have everything you need in order to activate your plan quickly and effectively.The items that should be included in your kit are listed below. • Registration certificates • Vaccination certificates • Transportation equipment (cages/carriers/crates/horse floats etc.) • Cat litter and tray for cats • Poo bags for dogs • ID tags (including pet’s name and your mobile phone number), collars, leads, harnesses, saddles etc. • Food and water bowls, and at least one week’s supply of non-refrigerated food • Medications and clear instructions for treatment of any medical conditions • Blankets/bedding/nesting material • Toys/enrichment devices • Photograph of your pets (including names) in sealed plastic bags • Contact details for your veterinarian, local animal shelter, local council and alternative animal accommodation facility.For assistance animals, you should also include: • evidence that your animal is appropriately trained to access public areas. • instructions on how the animal is to be treated by others assisting after an emergency, if there are specific requirements they may need to be aware of. You also need to decide what will trigger you to activate your plan and whether this may involve relocating your pets. To avoid unnecessary risks to you and your pets, move them to a safe place when emergency conditions are forecast (for example, if a serious fire risk is declared for the next day or if a flood watch warning is issued).What do I do if my neighbours have left their pets in the house during an evacuation? Can you come get them?Thank you for looking out for your neighbours animal/s. Please call RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League or the local police station to the animal’s location straight away. Legally, most volunteer organisations or civilians are not able to enter active fire or flood zones, but RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League are often able to assist in these situations as they receive proper training and equipment required to enter these zones during an active emergency.How should I prepare for an emergency if I have livestock?Just as we need to prepare our family and property in times of emergencies and natural disasters, we also need to prepare our animals. After human safety, the welfare of your animals should be your most important consideration in the event of a natural disaster. It is up to you to plan ahead and be prepared before an emergency happens to ensure the safety of yourself and your livestock.If it is your decision to relocate your animals, this MUST be done long before the emergency is in your area. Your options will depend on the size of your property, the number of stock you have and where your animals are normally kept. You should identify the ‘safest’ paddock on your property or neighbouring property. This paddock should have a water supply, clear access, be well grazed (avoiding adding fuel to fires) and have secure fencing. You will also need to make sure your animals are clearly identifiable with your contact details on all labels and tags. We’d suggest working with your neighbours to develop a plan for all your livestock and work together to execute this plan when an emergency may arise.Thank you for taking the time to prepare for the worst and keep your animals safe from harm. With a little planning and foresight, you can be fully prepared before an emergency happens to ensure the safety of yourself and your livestock.I saw an injured native animal during a bushfire. Who should I call? What should I do? Can you help them?Thank you for looking out for our native wildlife. If you find an injured native animal, please call RSPCA NSW, Animal Welfare League, the local police station to the animal’s location or a local wildlife rescue organisation.Legally, most volunteer organisations are not able to enter active fire or flood zones, but RSPCA NSW and Animal Welfare League are often able to assist in these situations as they receive proper training and equipment required to enter these zones during an active emergency. Please contact us on 1300 278 3589 or NSW Emergency Services so we can try to help this animal.