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Caring for animals during and after bushfires

What should I do if I find a stray/injured companion animal?

Please call either your local council to collect the animal, or (where possible) take it to a local veterinary clinic.

Should I be feeding wildlife affected by fires?

RSPCA Australia have comprehensive information about whether you should feed animals hwo have been impacted by bushfires.

What should I do with my pets in an emergency?

Pets should not be abandoned unless it is 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 use the following advice;

1. Do not tether them as they will be unable to flee if danger is imminent

2. Provide food and water for at least one week and provide multiple sources of water.

3. Ensure pets are properly identified (e.g. a collar with an ID tag and microchip).

4. Leave a note on the front door or on your mailbox stating your mobile phone number, how many pets are located on the premises, their species, names and a photo.

5. 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.

What if I have to leave my pets outside?

1. Ensure there is plenty of water available from a source that does not rely on power or above ground pipes.

2. 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).

3. Do not shut horses in stables or small fenced yards.

4. Do not place synthetic blankets on horses.

How can I help livestock that has been burnt by fire?

Animals that have been burnt should be immediately assessed as to the extent of the burns and then, depending on the injuries, either treated or euthanased. ‘Euthanasia’ means humanely ending the life of an animal when it is in the interest of the animal’s welfare and using a technique that avoids further pain, suffering or distress.

RSPCA Australia advocates that farm animals which have to be killed due to physical weakness or serious injury should be humanely and competently euthanased on site without delay.

NOTE: There is a belief that affected livestock cannot be euthanased until an insurance assessor has seen them. This is not the case and it is not standard practice Page 3 of 4 Victorian Bushfires FAQs – January 2020 for any insurer. Animals must be euthanased without delay to prevent further suffering.

Animal owners do not need to wait for Agriculture Victoria staff to visit to euthanise impacted livestock if they are confident they can do so humanely and safely. Click here for more information.

Post bushfire care for animals.

If you are concerned about your animals after a bushfire we encourage you to visit your local vet. However, all animals should be regularly inspected and nursed.

For all animals, ensure:

1. They are on the softest, most level ground available, especially if their feet are burnt.

2. They are checked often to confirm they can move to water and can drink. Animals that are unable to drink must be euthanased.

3. They have ready access to existing – or makeshift – shade.

4. They are treated for worms, especially after rain.

5. Check all animals regularly for signs of deterioration, in particular check for flystrike on burnt areas and feet. Treat as necessary.

6. Affected sheep may benefit from long-acting antibiotics for secondary infections. Seek veterinary advice.

Pets can also be affected by fires, with smoke inhalation a common issue.

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