Caring for Pets and Animals During Storms

Pets are an important part of the family so it’s important to consider them when planning for storms.

Your pets and animals are reliant on you during storms and can be scared by lightning, thunder and heavy rain. Where possible, it is suggested that owner consider bringing pets inside before a storm to prevent them from running away.

RSPCA South Australia has developed a Pet Emergency Plan to help pet owners are well prepared to protect their pets in agencies. This can be found at http://www.rspcasa.org.au/the-issues/animals-in-emergencies/

 

What you can do to make your pets & animals StormSafe:

Before

  • It is important to decide beforehand on a safe place to keep your animals during an emergency. Whether you leave your animals in yards or in the paddock should depend on the type of emergency and the risk of injury from material or trees in the paddocks, the likelihood of flooding and the stability of their yards. Consider bringing pets inside to prevent them from running away.
  • Ensure gutters are kept clean and branches near your home and yards are kept trimmed.
  • Secure or remove all loose objects.
  • Park your vehicle undercover and away from trees.
  • Make sure the animals have access to a safe food and water source. As power may be lost, do not rely on automatic water systems unless you have a backup generator.
  • If your animals are kept on another person’s property (agisted), talk to the property owner about the local risks and their plans for when there may be storms.

During

  • When thunder is heard within 30 seconds of a lightning flash, stop outside activity and seek shelter in a hard top vehicle or solid building. Avoid small structures, fabric tents and trees.
  • If you're unable to take shelter inside, squatting or crouching with knees drawn up and feet together keeping hands off the ground. Spread group members out – about ten metres apart, but within calling distance.
  • Wait for 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard to resume your activity. Find the safest accessible location and stay there until the storm has passed.
  • Stay away from metal poles, fences, clothes lines and discard any metal objects being carried such as a ‘Poopa Scoopa’

After

During the recovery process safety precautions need to be adopted to prevent further damage or injury. These include:

  • before entering buildings check for structural damage
  • before animals are returned to a facility or property ensure all perimeter fences are intact and the facility is secure
  • survey the area for hazards such as sharp objects, dangerous materials, live wires and contaminated water
  • check your animals for any injuries and release them into safe and enclosed areas but only during daylight
  • watch them closely for the next few hours. Often familiar areas and scents have changed which can confuse your animals and alter their behaviour. If your animals have been without food for a long period, reintroduce food slowly and in small portions. Allow free access to clean water. Do not give cold water
  • allow uninterrupted rest to recover from trauma or stress. Be patient with your animals after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioural problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioural problems persist, or if your animals seem to be having any health problems, talk to your vet.

 

For information on creating a Pet Emergency Plan, visit the RSPCA website http://www.rspcasa.org.au/the-issues/animals-in-emergencies/