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Protect your pet in a disaster

Protect your pet in a disaster

Disasters can strike at any time and without warning. If disaster were to strike today, would you have a plan to save you and your animals?

As the fourth anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake (22 February 2011) sadly approaches World Animal Protection is urging New Zealand pet owners to plan for their pets in a disaster now; with the launch of a new free online resource: protectyourpet.org.nz.

By visiting the website, New Zealand pet owners can download their free Disaster Planning Pack, with simple and practical advice to help them plan for their pet - whether they have dogs, cats, small animals (rats, mice and guinea pigs), rabbits, fish, birds, horses or Assistance/Guide Dogs.

For more than 50 years World Animal Protection has been protecting animals from disasters. Whilst working with communities, individuals and governments around the world to help their animals, the charity has seen many people put themselves at risk by refusing to evacuate without their animals. Disaster plans for animals can save not only the lives of animals but also the lives of pet owners.

“Pets are part of our family in New Zealand, just like animals are part of families and communities around the world. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan to protect your pet. Disasters can and do happen in New Zealand, but with a pet plan you will know what to do; saving time and saving the life of your entire family,” says Bridget Vercoe, New Zealand Country Director at World Animal Protection.

Hurricane Katrina’ (U.S 2005) for example is a real live case of rescue efforts being severely disrupted due to flood victims having no plan for their family pets. Flood-trapped victims refused to leave their pets behind, risking both human and animal life, on an enormous scale.

“Pet owners in New Zealand have a legal responsibility to keep their animals safe in a disaster. protectyourpet.org.nz helps you to do just that. Please prepare for you and your pet in a disaster now and ensure your family is protected,” Ms Vercoe concludes.

The free online resource, has been developed by World Animal Protection in conjunction with the Ministry for Civil Defence & Emergency Management, Ministry for Primary Industries, Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, New Zealand Veterinary Association and other agencies in the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management Advisory Group (NAWEM)*.

Jenny-May Coffin, former Silver Fern and TVNZ journalist, has also lent her support creating a disaster plan with her family, for their dog ‘Jay’ - to show Kiwis just how easy it is.

“The advice found on the website to help us protect Jay and our family in a disaster was simple but invaluable. We had a quick chat around a bowl of soup and decided on a few important things - like places we could evacuate to where Jay is welcome and how we could keep him calm with items like his lead and his favourite blanket. By having a quick think now, we feel in a much better position to protect ‘our boy’ Jay and ourselves should a disaster happen.”

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is helping to promote the resource. Dr Cath Watson, NZVA Companion Animal Society Branch President says “the Protect your Pet initiative provides the resources and planning needed to help ensure responsible pet ownership in an emergency. We urge every pet owner in the country to download a disaster pack and make a plan today; before it’s too late.”


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