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Bushfire Safety and your Dog

Updated: Nov 3, 2023



Keeping safe during bushfire season


1 year ago, the Australian Bushfire Season was catastrophic; now known as the Black Summer; thousands and thousands of homes were destroyed; millions of vertebrae animals died; millions of hectares and dozens of people lost their lives; a season we do not wish to see again, but sadly there is every likelihood we will.

This article is directed at the safety of our dogs when faced with bushfires. The very idea that our dogs could become victims of a bushfire is a devastating thought. So, I ask you, if you live in a bush environment or holiday in one, do you prepare for their safety? For their early evacuation?


FURSAFE® supports the decision to, where able, evacuate early and therefore does not include stay and defend information in this article.


Know your risk!

  • Is your home located in or near a bush setting, near a parkland, near paddocks or acreages? Your dogs are at risk

  • Know your local bushfire/wildfire alert levels; for example, Advice, Watch and Act Warning; if you do not, your dogs are at risk

  • Know your Fire Danger Rating; for example: Low/Moderate, High, Very High, Severe, Extreme, Catastrophic (Code Red) – the higher the rating, the more dangerous the conditions; when you see or hear the rating for the day you will know if your dogs are at risk

  • If you hear reports of local fires, your dogs are at risk

  • Consider this!

  • How will your dog/s cope during such a stressful time?

  • Will they run off if they sense or smell danger?

  • Will they be on their own without the ability to protect themselves?

  • Relieve themselves from the extreme temperatures? or

  • Reduce the risk of smoke inhalation?

If your dog is alone during a bushfire event

the impact could be devastating to their health and safety.


So, the question for all pet owners is,

  • How will we evacuate safely with our dogs?

  • Who will be there to look after my pup/s if a bushfire turns in the direction of my home and I’m not home?

  • Where will he/she stay until the danger passes?

  • What if my dog runs off?

  • What will I do if my dog is injured or ill during the event?

You cannot guarantee that your local Emergency Services will be able to pick up and evacuate your dog/s for you; and you cannot be sure your community evacuation centre will allow dogs in their facility.


We recommend that you:

  1. Communicate with your local Emergency Services Department to learn everything you can;

  2. Develop a bushfire survival plan;

  3. Prepare your home to reduce the risk of embers entering in, under or around your home;

  4. Study up on dog first aid; and

  5. Research past events/disasters in your community; this will give you an idea of what you could expect.

If at any time you are worried about vulnerable family members or their not being able to cope, please, call Emergency Services for additional guidance!


The best form of defense is BEING PREPARED and PRACTICING EVACUATION with your pets.


Follow:

  • Emergency Services on their Social Media platform,

  • Bureau of Meteorology;

  • Rural Fire Service; and

  • other local disaster management services in your area.

Register for alerts through your local Emergency Services Command and monitor the systems regularly. Make sure you have bushfire notification alerts sent to all family members mobile phones.

Safety Precautions

Think about the following and incorporate into your Bushfire Survival Plan:

  • What will you take?

  • When will you go?

  • Where will you go?

  • Do you know how to get there? and know alternative directions to take?

  • Who can you contact if you become separated or are away from the home leaving your family members and dog/s alone?



Prepare

  • Complete a Bushfire Survival Plan

  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers on display

  • Stock up on non-perishable food, water, batteries, pet foods, hygiene products, plastic bags, (Consider your power may go out, so you will need products that don’t require electricity.)

  • Do you have a personal and a Fursafe Emergency ‘Grab & Go Bag’ planned, packed and ready near exit?

  • Do you have a personal and a Fursafe Emergency Dog First Aid Kit planned, packed and ready near exit?

Include dog’s travel documents, completed pet details form, vaccination passport/records, medications, ownership documents (including photo of dog and photo of you with dog) in the Fursafe Emergency Grab & Go Bag

  • Get yourself a local map of your area if you don’t already have one; consider the safest routes, listen to news broadcasts, or speak with emergency services about road closures. Always leave early. Leaving late may put you in danger

  • Are you prepared to evacuate if your local emergency services instruct you to leave your home?

  • Make sure that if you must leave your dog at home during a High or Severe Bush Fire Warning Day that you keep the pet secured in the safest part of the house

  • Provide water, food, carrier/crate, leash and his Grab & Go kit; then, if the dog is collected by emergency services, a family member or neighbour, everything including your pet is in one safe area

  • Record your emergency contact for your dog/s on your Fursafe ICE Poster

  • DO NOT tie your dog up – doing so may cause your pet to hurt itself

  • Dog may be stressed even after the fire has passed; leave in crate till calm; if the room is smoky, move crate to a more suitable place in the home but still near the family

  • Never let a pet go outside after a fire has passed until everything has cooled down from spraying the area with water

    • the ground will burn your dog’s paws!

    • The smoke will cause difficulty for pet to breathe

    • monitor dog’s breathing;

    • monitor your dog’s heart rate;

    • make sure there is fresh water for drinking

    • treat all burns and other injuries as they arise

  • If you receive notice that the days ahead will have a severe fire warning; take your dog with you when you leave the home; and

  • drop them off to doggy day care or to family and friends out of the area until danger passed

  • Ensure your dog is microchipped

  • Consider investing in a GPS to help you track them down if they separate from you

  • Make sure you carry a photo of you and your dog/s together to assist in retrieval of them if they are picked up by emergency services or rescue volunteers

  • Your dog may become aggressive if frightened so do not place your face up close to theirs and never sit on the ground close to them whilst they are experiencing anxiety



Resources

State Emergency Service – Qld

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