Quake plan for capital pets

What will happen to your pets in a disaster?

KERRY MCBRIDE
METRO AND CAPITAL DAY REPORTER
Last updated 11:09 17/05/2012
Quake pets
Fairfax NZ
SAFE HOUSE: The council has been investigating how to look after animals if a major disaster hits Wellington.

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Lost or abandoned animals could be kept in places such as bowling clubs during an emergency, Wellington City Council says.

With lessons to be learnt from the Christchurch earthquake and overseas disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the council has been investigating how to look after animals if a similar scale disaster was to hit Wellington.

The Wellington Emergency Management Office has been developing potential options for animal welfare, including using animal agencies such as the SPCA to manage a response, and creating welfare centres in places such as bowling clubs or tennis courts.

Councillor Stephanie Cook said the plans were still in development, but the focus was firmly on ensuring a clear action plan was in place for the pets of Wellington.

"What we saw with Hurricane Katrina was that people were not willing to leave their pets behind, and died as a result. People don't behave rationally in these situations so it's about making sure they know there are options available for their pets."

Animal agencies and the Civil Defence Ministry would be involved in animal rescues, and there may be spaces set up where people can stay with their animals and continue to care for them.

Ms Cook expected there would be plenty of willing hands who would help care for animals at welfare centres around the city, but animal experts would be a crucial part of the plan.

"We have a lot of high rise buildings in this city and people will want to go save their cat or dog. Getting the right people in there fast with the right expertise would stop people taking risks to save their pets."

Shipping animals out of the city may not be an option, as Wellington could be completely cut off in a disaster, Ms Cook said.

"That means there has to be some smart thinking about caring for people and animals in the mid-term as well."

Related story: Wellington Zoo names first animals to be shot in emergency

Contact Kerry McBride
Metro and Capital Day reporter
Email: kerry.mcbride@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride

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- The Dominion Post

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