In focus: natural disasters in Australia

Disasters can be deadly because they can strike at any time and without warning. It is necessary to be prepared, act early and stay safe.

Different types of disasters bring with them specific considerations. Having the right information will help you take the right actions to ensure the safety of your pet.

The Black Saturday Bushfires

Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires were deadly for both people and pets.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission investigation into the fires found human safety was compromised because people had not prepared for their animals.

Many people have strong connections to their pets. In the Black Saturday bushfires, people lost their lives returning to the fire scene at a late stage to evacuate their animals.

One third of witness testimonies in the Black Saturday investigation mentioned animals.

The National Planning Principles for Animals in Disasters

In Australia, World Animal Protection led the National Advisory Committee for Animals in Emergencies.

This was made up of industry members, humanitarian and animal welfare organisations, government and the veterinary community.

The committee established the National Planning Principles for Animals in Disasters, which have been endorsed by heads of government responsible for emergency management and animal welfare authorities at the national, state and territory level.

World Animal Protection is now working to encourage communities and governments to put these principles in place around Australia, to make sure animals are accounted for in future disasters.

Why do we help animals in disasters?

Helping animals in disasters reduces their distress and helps communities recover and rebuild. Many of the world’s poorest people rely on animals for their livelihoods. Pets are also valued as important companions in many cultures.

Sadly, pets are often injured, lost or killed in disasters due to lack of preparation. Forgetting to include animal safety in disaster plans can threaten human lives when people attempt to evacuate their animals at the last minute, or make panicked decisions in the face of a disaster.

Find out more about our disaster work around the world.