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Animals Matter in a Disaster

Animals Matter in a Disaster

Don’t Put You Or Them at Risk. Make a Plan Now.

Following the severe 6.2 quake in the lower North Island on Monday (20/01/14); the expected aftershocks; and as the third year anniversary of Christchurch’s deadliest earthquake sadly approaches next month (22/02/11) - 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 a free online public resource: http://disaster.wspa.org.nz.

“As recent events have shown, unfortunately disasters are very real in New Zealand and as it is the owner’s responsibility to keep their pets safe in a disaster, under current New Zealand law, how many severe warning signs do we literally need to make ourselves prepare for the worst?” says Bridget Vercoe, Country Director at WSPA NZ.

With 50 years’ experience in Disaster Relief work around the globe, WSPA has witnessed first-hand how ‘preparedness’, around animals in adverse events, can save both human and animal lives whilst a lack of it can severely jeopardise them.

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. Ms Vercoe explains: “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.

“In stark contrast to this westernised example, is Cyclone Phailin which recently struck the heavily populated, low-lying eastern coast of India in November 2013. Human and animals deaths were kept very low due to the co-ordination of a pre-planned mass evacuation by the Indian government; making this disaster a living, breathing example of why WSPA promotes ‘preparedness’”, continues Ms Vercoe.

As a result, WSPA wants 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. “Right here in New Zealand, and on our very own doorstep we have seen how in a disaster things can happen quickly and without warning - a plan made now, for you and your animals, will definitely help stop delays or panicked wrong decisions that could end up putting your life and the lives of others at risk,” Vercoe

The free online resource, developed by WSPA in conjunction with the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, Ministry for Primary Industries, Royal New Zealand SPCA, New Zealand Vet Association and other agencies in the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management Advisory Group*, gives pet owners all the vital information they need to plan for their animals in a disaster.

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 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, provided that all your database details are up-to-date.

With this practical, easy to follow content, WSPA intends to encourage households, particularly those with children; to make a plan and practice their plan, in order to make a preparedness plan not only fun but as robust as it can be.

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).


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