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.

If you have more than one type of pet, you need to consider their individual needs. They may not be able to shelter at the same place, especially if you plan to evacuate to the home of a friend or family member.

Many people do not prepare a disaster plan for their pet, which can result in losing valuable time and making last minute decisions when a disaster occurs.

This can put the lives of your pet, yourself and your family in danger.

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

The Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009 were deadly for both people and pets.

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission investigation into the bushfires found that human safety was compromised due to households lacking of preparation for their animals.

Many people have strong connections to their pets - and many lives were lost returning to the fire scene at a late stage to retrieve animals.

One-third of witness testimonies in the Black Saturday investigation made reference to animals.

Disaster management work in Australia

With more than 50 years of experience working in disaster zones internationally, World Animal Protection knows that the lives of people are linked with that of their pets. However, people can put themselves and rescue teams at risk when they do not prepare for the safety of their pets in a disaster.

Many types of disasters are common in Australia – we have suffered 265 disasters in a period of just 30 years. And like the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, disasters can occur quickly, without warning and can cause death and destruction. Now more than ever, we need to improve planning by individuals, communities and governments to ensure the protection of local communities when disaster strikes.

To find out more about our work globally, take a look at our animals in disasters work.

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 members from industry, humanitarian and animal welfare organisations, national, state and local governments and the veterinary community.

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

World Animal Protection is now working to encourage implementation of these principles around Australia so as to protect animals in disasters.

Download the National Planning Principles for Animals in Disasters.

Why do we help animals in disasters?

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

However, due to lack of planning and preparation, pets are often injured, lost or killed in disasters. Lack of preparation for animal safety risks human lives when people attempt late retrieval of animals from homes or make panicked decisions in the face of a disaster.

Watch this video to find out more:

Protect your pet in a disaster

Do you have a plan to protect your pet when disaster strikes?

Bushfires, storms, floods, tropical cyclones and hot weather are a reality of living in Australia.

These disasters can occur at any time, and without a plan you could make panicked decisions that threaten the safety of your pet, yourself and your family.

It is vital to prepare a disaster plan for your pet – or be prepared potentially to lose each other forever.

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