The recent bushfires touched all of our lives, but the impact on wildlife has been most heart-rending.
RSPCA Victoria, which has been at the heart of the action tending to injured animals hurt in the fire, reminds responsible pet owners to think ahead and include their beloved animals in their emergency planning, in the event of a bushfire and other disasters.
Are You Prepared? Pet Emergency Planning
If you and your family have your emergency kits, make sure your pet has its own grab-and-go bag. It must contain essentials like a week’s supply of food, medications, toys, and even its registration and vaccination records.
But what if you need to leave your animals behind? This is unthinkable for any pet parent, but if evacuation is not possible, be mindful of these lifes-saving tips from RSPCA:
- Provide food and water. Make sure there’s enough to last at least an entire week. Place feeding containers all over your home, where they’re sure to find them.
- Don’t tether your pets. It might seem like a good idea to keep them indoors or even tied up, so they don’t wander off. But what if you have to evacuate without them? Allow your pets to move freely, in case they have to flee to a safer place.
- Secure their identification. Check that their collars are firmly in place with an ID tag. More tips here.
RSPCA Victoria: Protecting Australia’s Wildlife
RSPCA Victoria has always worked to ensure the health and security of animals from abuse and other external dangers, protecting those that cannot protect themselves. And the recent bushfires were no exception.
In a rescue operation not even two weeks ago, it was all hands on deck at the Bairnsdale bushfire relief centre. Steph Conroy, one of the not-for-profit’s animal enrichment volunteers, described the rescue operations as incredibly heart-breaking to see. “Some animals that we hoped could be rehabilitated ended up deteriorating. These outcomes were disappointing when we’d got our hopes up for a happy ending,” she says.
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So far, there have been over 30 injured koalas delivered to RSPCA Victoria’s Mobile Animal Care Unit in Bairnsdale. Some are suffering from minor burns and are able to be treated and released. Others with more serious injuries are being treated on site and sent to Healesville Sanctuary for rehabilitation. RSPCA Victoria and @zoosvictoria are working together to help make sure these koalas get the best care possible. 💖🐨💖
The RSPCA Team, specialist wildlife vets from Zoos Victoria, the Australian Veterinary Association, and other organisations were on site. They treated more than 30 koalas; some with minor burns were treated and then released, or were taken to Healesville Sanctuary for ongoing rehabilitation. Others were not as fortunate, having suffered severe burns or respiratory failure from inhaling too much smoke.
For Steph, it was sobering to release some of the koalas into different habitats from the ones they were found in because of the destruction and loss of food sources. “This really drove home the devastation caused by the bushfires and the longer-term impacts we will likely see into the future.”
While wildlife vets provide specialised care, every animal owner can learn how to recognise signs of illness and help their pet, especially during an emergency like a bushfire. Learning the basics is a must, like measuring vital signs of life, bandaging bleeding wounds, performing CPR, and maintaining safety while working with an injured pet.
Hone your pet first-aid skills. If you have a furry friend at home, preparedness can ensure their survival.
Got pets? Be prepared for emergencies!
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