Protect your Pet in an Emergency

Most of us Territorian's feel very lucky to live up here in the Northern Territory. We have a wonderful relaxed lifestyle that is supported by our lovely warm weather. But with the warm weather comes Cyclones... And other natural disasters.


Three Steps to Your Pet Emergency Plan

Your Pet Emergency Plan should form a key part of your overall Emergency Survival Plan. for information on preparing your Cyclone Survival Plan, click here.

Include Pets in Your Emergency Survival Plan

  • Determine where your pets will be able to shelter either with you or where they can be relocated to if you need to evacuate. This may be a boarding facility or a family member or friend located in a safe cyclone rated area. Keep in mind that the premise may have specific requirements – for example, boarding facilities require that pets are up-to-date with vaccinations.
  • Train your pets to be settled in a cage / carrier / crate / horse float.
  • Get pets accustomed to car trips.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date and keep the certificate in a safe place.
  • Ensure that cats and dogs are microchipped and have an ID tag including their name and your mobile phone number.
  • Ensure that contact details are up-to-date on the microchip register. Dogs should also be registered with your local council.
  • Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit for each pet in advance.
  • Schedule a time to practice your plan.

Late evacuation can be dangerous. To avoid unnecessary risks to you and your pets, move them to a safe place as soon as possible

Prepare Your Pet Emergency Kit

Preparing a pet emergency kit is an essential part of your planning process. It will ensure that you have everything you need in order to activate your plan quickly. The kit should include;

  • Microchip number and details Make sure contact details are up to date
  • Registration certificates.
  • Vaccination certificates.
  • Transportation equipment (cages / carriers / crates / horse floats etc.).
  • Cat litter and tray.
  • Poo bags for dogs.
  • ID tag (including pets 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.
  • Tick and Flea treatments (keep in mind it may be a week or two before you can purchase more)
  • Blankets / bedding / nesting material.
  • Toys / enrichment devices.
  • Photograph of your pets (including names) in sealed plastic bags.
Contact details for your vet, local animal shelter, local council and alternative animal accommodation facility.

Practice Your Survival Plan

Practicing your emergency survival plan is a vital part of your preparation. Practice will help you to refine your plan, and prevent panic in the event of a real emergency.

  • Small pets should be contained within the home at the first sign of an emergency. This ensures they are close at hand if you make the decision to evacuate.
  • Phone ahead to confirm arrangements with the safe location you have designated in your emergency plan.
  • Pack your Pet Emergency Kit in your vehicle.
  • Allow additional time for the special needs of some pets;
  • Carry birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice or other pocket pets in cages or in secure boxes with small air holes.
  • Put fish in a large wide-necked jar with a secure lid. Fill the jar two-thirds with water. Regularly blow through a straw into the water to aerate it.
  • Frogs need a small covered tub with 2.5cm of water and air holes in the top.
  • Snakes and lizards need a container with a secure lid and air holes. They may also be transported in a sack or pillowcase that has been securely fastened at the opening.
  • As poultry and aviary birds are easily affected by smoke, make a hessian covering to fit the cage. To use, wet down the covering and secure around the outside of the cage.

Pets should not be abandoned unless it is absolutely impossible to evacuate them. To avoid this situation, consider evacuating your pets before the danger arises. If you are forced to leave your pets behind, be sure to follow the advice below;

  • Do not tether pets (i.e. tie them up) as they will be unable to flee if danger is imminent.
  • Provide food and water for at least 1 week in accessible places and in more than one container that can’t be tipped over.
  • Ensure pets are properly identified (e.g. a collar with an ID tag and microchip).
  • Leave a note on the front door or on your mail box stating your mobile phone number, how many pets are located on the premises, their species, names and a photo.
  • Birds will require food dispensers that regulate the amount of food provided at any one time. Ideally these dispensers will be provided for all pets.
  • In the case of flood, position a heavy chair or crate to allow access to a higher refuge such as a bench, vanity unit or shelf where adequate food and water should be left.

If possible, leave your pets indoors:

  • Leave your pets in a safe, secure room. Ideally this room would have no windows, and must have adequate air (e.g. a big bathroom).
  • Avoid rooms with hazards such as large windows, hanging plants or large picture frames.
  • Don't confine dogs and cats in the same space.

If you leave your pets outside:

  • Ensure there is plenty of water available from a source that does not rely on power or above ground pipes.
  • In a bushfire, move pets to a closely grazed or ploughed paddock (preferably around the homestead) with drinking water, steel fencing and preferably shade (Poultry can be placed in a temporary pen).
  • In a flood, move pets to high ground with adequate natural feed. Additional feed may be required for stock stranded for extended periods.
  • In a severe storm (including hail) or a cyclone, place pets under solid cover (e.g. sturdy barn / shed or covered pen).
  • Do not shut horses in stables or small fenced yards. Sand arenas, grazed down paddocks or similar bare areas are best.
  • High visibility pet coats and horse rugs with your mobile phone number can also be helpful to assist in the relocation of lost pets.
  • Do not place synthetic blankets on your horses.
  • Provide a minimum of 5 days’ supply of hay or ensure access to pasture.

“For information on how to protect your pets in bushfire emergencies, please click here to visit the RSPCA South Australia website”

RSPCA Darwin Regional Branch would like to extend a massive “Thank you” to RSPCA South Australia for the use of their images and collateral that went to assist in the making of this page

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