RSPCA NSW urges pet owners to include their pets in their bushfire safety plans.
"The aim is to reduce the danger, panic, and stress of managing your pets in an emergency, like a sudden evacuation," a spokesperson said.
"Practice the plan to ensure any possible problems are eliminated."
Pet owners should prepare a pet emergency kit containing everything they need to activate the plan quickly and effectively.
The kit should contain:
- 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.
Follow advice from emergency service personnel to ensure you know when to activate your plan, and whether this may involve relocating your pets. Find out if pets are allowed at your local evacuation centre before you need to evacuate. Pets should not be abandoned unless it is impossible to safely evacuate them.
If you are home, shut your pets inside the house to limit harm from smoke inhalation, and so they can exit with you once the danger has passed.
If you must leave pets behind alone, leave them in a safe, secure room. Ideally, this room would have no windows and must have adequate air, such as a big bathroom. Avoid rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants, or large picture frames.
If leaving your pets outside is the only option, ensure there is plenty of water available from a source that does not rely on power or above-ground pipes. Move pets to a closely grazed or ploughed paddock with drinking water, steel fencing, and preferably shade. Do not place synthetic blankets on your horses, as these may melt during extreme heat.
The Department of Primary Industries, the primary agency for animal welfare during any emergency, has contacted RSPCA NSW to have their Inspectorate assist the emergency service workers across the state.
If you have any concerns for animals in affected areas, please call RSPCA NSW (9770 7555), WIRES (1300 094 737), or the local police station to the animal's location straight away.
"Taking the time to prepare for the worst will help to ensure the safety of yourself and your beloved pets," the RSPCA spokesperson said.