Do you have an evacuation plan for your pet?

Last Updated 1 MARCH 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski

While Australia is quite geologically stable, we certainly experience our fair share of natural disasters. With the February 2022 floods ravaging northern NSW and South East Queensland, we've learned how quickly situations can evolve and how important it is to have a plan in place to keep all family members safe. Likewise, the bushfire event of early 2020 was enough to shake the nation to its core. It's safe to say that the lives of many Australians are affected every year and our country is no stranger to floods, fires, heatwaves and cyclones. While some disasters are more predictable, others may strike while you are at work or out running errands and it's best to always be prepared for the worst.

We've compiled some tips below to help prepare you and your pets in the event they need to be evacuated.

1. Ensure Microchip Information is Up To Date

Make sure you and your pet are easily identifiable in the event you are separated. Pets will try to escape if they can sense danger is nearby. Keep your pet's microchip up to date whenever you move or change your phone number. In order for your information to be read on a microchip, your pet must first be taken to a shelter or pound to be scanned.

Always have an ID tag on your pet's collar with their name, your name and your mobile phone number. If you have your home phone number on their ID tag, make sure you have a secondary number as you likely will not have access to your home for a while after evacuating. Not only will this increase your chances of being reunited with your pet but you'll likely be contacted much quicker as your pet does not have to be taken to the pound to be identified.

2. Stay Across Weather Alerts

Keep an eye on the Bureau of Meteorology to prepare for any potential dangers to your pets if you are needing to leave them home alone. If there is a high risk, consider relocating your pets to be with someone else for the day or until the danger has passed.

3. Who is your emergency guardian?

It's possible that in the event of an evacuation, you won't be able to retrieve your pet yourself. Especially if you commute to work or are out of the area, make sure you have at least one person nearby who can action your pet's evacuation plans. This person should have a set of keys to your house or know the location of your spare key if you leave this outside. Leaving a spare key in a hidden location is a good idea if you have multiple emergency contacts.

Make sure that you have a plan for varying levels of urgency. For example we own two dogs who live indoors and an aviary outside that houses approximately thirty budgies. If there was a bushfire on our back doorstep and we didn't have enough time to place the birds into a portable enclosure, our plan is to tip the entire aviary so that they can fly free.

4. Prepare an Emergency Kit

If you have to evacuate your property, you don't have time to waste searching under the house for a travel crate. Make sure that your pet's kit is easily accessible, especially if you have arranged an emergency guardian who wouldn't know where your pet's supplies usually are.

Your pet's emergency kit should contain:

5. Keep your pet's medical requirements up to date

Make sure that your pet is up to date with vaccinations, flea, tick and worming treatments. Most boarding facilities and temporary accommodations require pets to be fully vaccinated and will request your pet's vaccination history.

It is safest to keep your pet indoors, if they cannot be kept inside, make sure they have plenty of water and food available at multiple locations outside. Do not tether your pet with a rope or chain as they will have no chance at escape if there is a danger.

If you have pets, you should have an evacuation plan for them in the event anything ever goes wrong. Even if you are home often, an evacuation guardian is worth having just in case and perhaps in return you can be their pet pal too!

Further Reading

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