A person in charge of an animal is responsible for that animal at all times. Therefore during an emergency it is the responsibility of the person in charge of an animal to continue to provide for the animal’s welfare needs.
One of the simplest steps owners can take towards preparing their animal/s for emergency is registering and micro-chipping them. All registered cats and dogs will receive a council identification tag and should wear it at all times. To register your pet, visit our animal registration page for details. Micro-chipping is compulsory for cats and dogs and will greatly assist in the identification and return of animals that stray or are impounded during an emergency. Owners of animals other than cats or dogs, such as rabbits are not legally required to be micro-chipped however, owners may wish to consider this as an option. In addition to micro-chipping, owners can also consider animal life and veterinary insurance.
Pets and animals are considered part of the family and together with children, property and possessions, should be included in the household emergency plan. The plan should include actions for a number of emergency scenarios. For example, owners should think about what to do in a scenario where they are separated from their pet during an emergency and prevented from reaching them due to road blocks.
For help writing a plan that includes pets, visit the Be Ready Warrandyte website where you can access a fire plan template to get you started.
Putting together an animal evacuation kit is also an important part of preparing for emergency. Kits can help to avoid or minimise animal welfare issues if people are displaced with their pet during an emergency and may include; council registration details, microchip number, vaccination history, medication, leads and long-life food. A person attending an Emergency Relief Centre (ERC) who has prepared for their animal will make caring for that animal much easier. For example, bringing a cat cage will free up a council cat cage to be used for an owner who didn't bring one.
During any emergency or when leaving the area as a precaution on high fire risk days for example, owners should enact their household emergency plan. Animal owners can;
- Create a ‘safer’ indoor environment in the home for pets in case they are away from the home when an emergency starts,
- Create a ‘low risk area’ on their property for livestock and horses,
- Take the animal to a friend or relative’s home,
- Take the animal to work,
- Write their phone number on their horses hooves;
- Place the animal in day care at a boarding facility;
- Agist animals in a less fire/ flood-prone area during higher emergency risk months;
- Take dogs to a dog beach or visit a dog-friendly park or activity center (take precautions in the heat, minimise time outdoors on hot days and during an extreme heat event);
- As a last resort, attend an ERC (only active during an emergency).
For detailed advice there are number of websites you can visit:
- DEDJTR (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources)
- DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
- Animal Aid
- AVA (Australian Veterinary Association)
- Friends of Manningham Dogs and Cats (FOMDAC) Facebook page
- Bushfire Bobby Facebook page
- Eastern Melbourne Fire-Ready Pet Lovers Facebook page
- National Equine Database website and Facebook page
If you are in a safe area away from an emergency you must not enter an emergency-affected area in order to collect your animal. Police will be enforcing road blocks into the area for public safety.
Volunteering with emergency-affected animals
If you are interested in volunteering with emergency-affected animals, it is a good idea to join a group prior to an emergency occurring. Volunteers can be coordinated much faster and easier if they are part of a pre-existing group. There are a number of existing networks that invite volunteers to work with animals.
Emergency wildlife volunteers will be organised via existing networks of authorised wildlife foster carers and shelter operators.
Volunteer with a wildlife organisation now.
Volunteers with an interest in livestock and farm assistance can register their interest with the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF).
Verterinary professionals can register their interest with the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). For more information contact the AVA on 9600 2930 or visit their website.