Animals Matter In A Disaster Don't Put You Or Them At Risk. Make A Plan Now
If disaster were to strike today, would you have a plan to save yourself and your animals? As the anniversary of the February (2011) Canterbury Earthquake approaches, The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is urging New Zealand pet owners to plan for their pets in a disaster now; with the launch of a free online public resource: http://disaster.wspa.org.nz
“Pets are part of your family and it is the owners’ responsibility to keep them safe in a disaster. Hurricane Katrina, which occurred in the United States in 2005, is a real live case of rescue efforts being severely disrupted due to flood victims having no plan for their family pets,” says Bridget Vercoe, Country Manager at WSPA New Zealand.
“Because of no food/water/emergency supplies or a pre-arranged ‘safe house’ for their pets, flood-trapped victims refused to leave their pets behind, risking both human and animal life, on a large scale. Instead, we want Kiwis to make a disaster plan for their family and pets now, so that their pet may actually end up saving their lives; as they and their pet will be well prepared to evacuate fast together, or if safer stay put, with sufficient supplies when a disaster strikes,” says Ms Vercoe.
“If you think this is just a resource for ‘animal lovers’, then think again. This resource provides those with pets with practical advice on how they can include preparations for their animals in their plans for the household in an emergency,” says John Hamilton, the Director at the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM).
The free online resource, developed by WSPA in conjunction with MCDEM, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Royal New Zealand SPCA (RNZSPCA), New Zealand Vet Association and other agencies in the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management Advisory Group (NAWEM)*, gives pet owners all the vital information they need to plan for their animals in a disaster.
Ms Vercoe explains that under New Zealand law it is the owner or person in charge who is responsible for the physical, health and behavioural needs of their pets.
On this website there are free downloadable Disaster Packs providing practical advice for dogs, cats, small animals (rats, mice and guinea pigs), rabbits, fish, horses and Assistance/Guide Dogs. The simple advice contains practical pointers, such as having a water proof cage for your animal, a muzzle for your dog and ensuring your animal is microchipped.
“Microchipping your animal is the single most effective way to ensure their return to you in an emergency. In the Canterbury Earthquake 80% of microchipped animals taken to the Christchurch SPCA were reunited with their owners compared to the 20% un-microchipped. The microchip is your pets’ easiest ticket home from SPCA, vets or Animal Control, provided that all your database details are up-to-date” says Robyn Kippenberger, National Chief Executive at the RNZSPCA.
Beth Allen, Shortland Street Actress (‘Brooke Freeman’) has also lent her support creating a Disaster Plan with her family, for her dog ‘Ned’, to show Kiwis just how easy it is to take the time now and put a plan on paper.
“The advice from WSPA on how to prepare a plan for Ned in a disaster was simple but invaluable and I now feel I have a great plan in place for us and Ned should anything happen. We had a quick chat around the dinner table with the family to work out the plan and now I feel assured that we've done all we can to prevent harm coming to our beloved puppy should disaster strike.”
Animals Matter in Disasters - find out how you can save precious time and those lives you consider precious at: http://disaster.wspa.org.nz (also accessible via the WSPA NZ website: www.wspa.org.nz).