Bushfires and Pets
Victoria is one of the most fire prone areas in the world. All households are responsible for developing their own bushfire survival plan. As pets are reliant on owners for their safety in an emergency, it is essential that your survival plan includes pets and other animals on your property. A survival plan must be developed, discussed and practiced before the fire season.
Relocating your Pets
The safest place for your pets on high fire risk days is to relocate them to somewhere with little or no bushfire risk. If you decide to relocate your animals, you should do it the night before a total fire ban day.
Emergency accommodation at animal shelters and boarding facilities may not be available, or be very limited. As part of your bushfire survival plan, you should prearrange with friends, relatives or others in a low fire danger area to care for pets on high risk days.
If you have to go to work on days of high fire danger, consider taking your animals to a safer place before leaving home. Under no circumstances should animals be left in vehicles. Keep in mind that you may not be allowed home for some time, and to ensure that your pet emergency kit accompanies your pet wherever it goes.
Evacuating with your Pets
Evacuating with your Pets If your bushfire survival plan is to leave your property with your animals, the safest option is to leave at the beginning of a day with a declared fire danger rating of Severe or Extreme. You should leave the night before or early in the morning when conditions are Code Red (catastrophic). On high risk days, do not let your pets outside unsupervised, as they may take fright and run away. Pets that are normally well behaved may become fearful and nervous during an emergency. Have your pet emergency kit ready to take with you including cages for small pets so they can be transported safely. If heading for an evacuation centre check which ones are able to take animals. If possible cats should be placed in emergency accommodation such as at an animal shelter, boarding /cattery or with friends or family. This is due to the difficulties in containing cats and the owners ability to provide them with a good quality of life while confined in a carry cage.
Remaining on the Property
During a bushfire there will not be a fire truck available to protect every property. If you choose to stay and defend your property you will need to do some preparation well in advance. Refer to the Country Fire Authority for further information.
If you are unable to or choose not to relocate your pets you will need to move them inside the house well before the fire impacts. If animals have to be left outside during the fire, do not tie them up.
Animals suffer from heat stress so ensure your pets have access to plenty of water. Fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure you have access to water if services are disrupted after the fire.
After the Fire
If your animals are injured seek veterinary treatment immediately. DPI animal health staff, RSPCA, local councils and local vets will all be working to assist animals affected by the fires. They will be working under emergency circumstances and access and communications may be disrupted so expect some delay before help arrives. The Australian Veterinary Association advises that burns should be treated in the interim by running clean cold water over the burns.
If your pets are lost, notify your local council and neighbours, and check animal shelters daily.